Arthur Flowers performs at ArtRage

April 10, 2019 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

African American writer, griot and blues singer Arthur Flowers and Indian scroll painter Manu Chitrakar have combined their very distinctive storytelling traditions in an extraordinary literary jam session culminating in a book titled, I See the Promised Land: A Life of Martin Luther King Jr. The book was written by Arthur Flowers and illustrated by Manu Chitrakar.

Arthur will be at ArtRage to perform this story in musical prose, based on griot oral storytelling traditions, bringing his own perspective to the events he describes. This graphic narrative brings together two diverse yet dramatic traditions of storytelling and Arthur will use the original scroll created by Manu Chitrakar, that carries the tale into the vivid idiom of Patua art, turning King’s historic journey into a truly universal legacy. As we see each panel unfurl, we find that I See the Promised Land traverses the milestones of Martin Luther King Jr.’s short life, ministry, and journey as only Arthur Flowers can tell it—replete with destiny and the human condition.

The engaging text describes the apartheid South in Martin Luther King’s time, which in many ways was not very different from the early days of slavery. Included are descriptions of the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the formation of civil rights groups; mass movements against segregation, such as the Albany Movement and the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, after which King became black America’s acknowledged leader; and the influence on King of Gandhi, with his nonviolent approach to resistance. We are told about King’s personal struggles as well as the political challenges he faced with the rise of Malcolm X and Black Power. Flowers’ text concludes with a brief look at his legacy.

Free and Open to the Public

About the Author
Arthur Flowers teaches at Syracuse University in the English Department’s MFA program in Creative Writing. A native of Memphis, he has been Executive Director of the Harlem Writers Guild and co-founder of the New Renaissance Writers Guild and the Pan African Literary Forum. He is a blues-based performance poet who considers himself literary heir to both the Western written tradition and the African oral one.


About the Artist
Manu Chitrakar began painting when he was twelve years old. As a Patua scroll artist who sings and paints, he is part of a living art and performance tradition that is as open to contemporary news stories and politics as it is to ancient legend and myth. He was so inspired when he heard the story of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement that he wanted to render it in his own artistic tradition. He lives and works in Naya Village in Bengal, India.