Quanda Johnson is a Fulbright Scholar and a Dean’s Graduate Scholar in Gallatin’s MA program. A performer from Broadway to grand opera, she seeks ways to utilize performance to disrupt and consequently alter entrenched, cyclical conversations concerning Blackness and the African Diaspora. Quanda earned her MFA in Acting from New School University and a Master of Music degree from the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. An AUDELCO-Award nominee for her portrayal of Marian Anderson, Quanda appeared in Broadway’s Tony award-winning Ragtime and made her New York City Opera debut in The Mother of Us All with Lauren Flanigan. She had the privilege of presenting her work, “In Search of Negroland; a different study of the negro race,” at GAF 2016. Her work is dedicated to the memory of the first artist in her life, her mother, Vernetta.
The Ballad of Anthony Crawford: A Love Letter to America
Quanda Johnson – spoken word
Kelsey Leonard – tap dancer
Italy Welton – contemporary dancer
Nayo Sasaki-Picou – djembe player
Abe Libman – visual artist
Georgina Hahn-Griffiths – visual artist
Austin Willis – visual artist
Shira Feldman – audio/video artist
Leah P. Lavigne – producer
Trevor J. Newton – producer
I’m falling. I catch myself. Rise, then fall again. Each time I catch myself, I feel a tension in my throat. A suffocation threatening to snap my neck altogether. I love this country. America. Even the sound of it: melodious, yet popping with staccato. But tucked within that love is a discontent that unsettles me. I hear a gasp of air; the all-too-familiar tightness returns. On the page is the name of my ancestor, Anthony Crawford. The NAACP’s Roy Nash was sent to Abbeville County, South Carolina, to investigate the lynching of one Anthony Crawford on October 21, 1916. Our patriarch was dead and with his death, we were expendable. So we fled. Refugees to parts unknown. Immigrants in the land of our birth. Exiles in a free land. And Anthony Crawford? Who sings for him? May I, America?