Film Screening of ”AJASS: Pioneers of the Black is Beautiful Movement“

Friday, April 14, 2023, 5:30 - 9:30pm

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The Herb Lubalin Study Center in conjunction with Cultural Caravan Productions, Inc., presents a screening of the award-winning documentary, AJASS: Pioneers of the Black is Beautiful Movement, by Louise Dente.  

The African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS) was founded in 1956 by a group of four talented creatives: Elombe Brath, Kwame Brathwaite, Bob Gumbs, and Chris Acemandese Hall. Inspired by the writings of activist and Black nationalist Marcus Garvey, and his protégé, Carlos Cook of the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM), AJASS was a collective of artists, playwrights, designers, musicians, and other Black creatives who sought to produce and promote their own work. Elombe Brath said that one of AJASS’s primary purposes was to “spread the idea of Black unity through appreciation of self, beauty of self — and to establish a Black standard."

Dente’s documentary chronicles the journey of AJASS from its start in the South Bronx, where they first hosted jazz concerts, to Harlem where their projects expanded helping to shape the visual landscape of the second Harlem Renaissance in the process. It features commentary from several prominent voices on the impact of AJASS and the Grandassa Models, a modeling group created by AJASS for Black women, aiming to challenge white beauty standards.  

New York State Assembly Member, Edward Gibbs, will present a Proclamation to the Filmmaker, Louise Dente, and the Grandassa Models, in celebration of their founding over 60 years ago. There will also be a panel and Q&A with Dente that is hosted by Harold Thomas following the screening. Panelists include Cinque Brath, Elombe Brath Foundation; Ajuba Grinage Bartley, Grandassa Model; and Basir Mchawi, Educator/Activist/ WBAI Radio host.

Register here.

Visitors must show security proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test by a third party (not home test) within three days of their visit to campus or a negative rapid test result taken by a third party (not home test) on the day of the visit to campus.



Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.