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Posted on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 3 p.m.

Wild Swan Theater celebrates African American History Month

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

When Gwen Ifill was here as the keynote speaker for the University of Michigan’s MLK Day Symposium, she joked that anyone who missed the “I Have a Dream” speech on MLK Day would have another chance in February during African American History Month, a slightly cynical reminder that for some, these are the only two times of the year many suddenly remember to cursorily think about African American history.

Luckily, not everyone is like that.

Wild Swan Theater celebrates African American History Month with a full slate of wonderful programs this month that skillfully combine music, humor, friendship and wisdom while traversing both the culture of Africa and the history of African America.

First, they presented “Drum Me a Story” at the Ann Arbor District Library on Feb. 6, a collection of funny African folktales, including "Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock" and "How the Turtle Got its Shell." These were accompanied by fabulous drums and drumming.

This week, Feb. 9-11, they present Chicago actress “Momma Kemba as Sojourner Truth” telling in her own words how she was born into slavery and then spent her life fighting against oppression. Peter Madcat Ruth plays the accompaniment.

Next week, Feb. 18-20, they have a new presentation of African stories, “Under the African Sky,” again with colorful costumes, masks, and traditional music.

Check out the Wild Swan Web site for more about this special theater company.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her Web site at, her blog at or reach her at