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Arts Notes


Harvard’s Gates receives literary award

NEWPORT, N.H. — Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has won one of New England’s most prestigious literary awards.

Gates accepted the 2009 Sarah Josepha Hale Award Sunday at the Newport Opera House. The award has been presented annually since 1956 in recognition of a distinguished body of work in literature and letters. Gates is the first African American writer to receive the award.

The award is given to literary figures associated primarily with New England through their work. Previous recipients include Robert Frost, Arthur Miller and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Gates’ arrest in July by a white Cambridge police sergeant investigating a possible burglary at Gates’ home triggered a national debate over racial profiling. The disorderly conduct charge was dropped, and both men met at the White House with President Barack Obama for an informal “beer summit.”

Tupac’s mother donates his writing for research

ATLANTA — Tupac Shakur’s mother has donated a collection of the rapper’s writing to the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Atlanta University Center.

Afeni Shakur has handed over more than 150 of her son’s items, ranging from rough drafts of lyrics and poems to a photocopy of his contract with Suge Knight and Death Row Records.

The rapper’s collection will be part of the archives at the library on the campus of the Atlanta University Center, which comprises the historically black universities of Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University and the Morehouse School of Medicine. The library also houses The Martin Luther King Jr. Collection.

Shakur’s records are expected to be available for research in the fall of 2010.

“We need to read history from the source,” Afeni Shakur said. “It gives people the opportunity to judge him objectively. What we want to do is educate.”

Other items include the rapper’s handwritten playlists of the albums “All Eyez on Me” and “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory”; letters he wrote to his family when he was in prison in 1994; and some of his personal items returned to the family after his death.

Afeni Shakur says she has never read any of her son’s notes.

“I haven’t touched them one bit,” she said. “I have not been able to. But I think when the library makes them available, I think I can go with my family and might able to do it for the first time.”

Shakur was one of rap’s best-selling artists, becoming an even bigger star after his release from prison in 1995 with his multiplatinum-selling album “All Eyez on Me.” He was shot to death while riding in a car with Knight in Las Vegas a year later.

“Tupac’s collection provides this generation to see primary documents,” said Loretta Parham, CEO and library director of the Woodruff Library. “It’s the opportunity for them to relate something from the past to now.”

(Associated Press)