A performance of the 309-page epic poem by Xavier alumnus Russell Goings is being broadcast this month on National Public Radio. The hour-long performance of the poem, “The Children of Children Keep Coming,” is being presented by actor Brian Stokes Mitchell at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, on local station WVXU (91.7 FM).
The exploration of Goings’ poem is part of a collaboration by Fairfield University in Fairfield, Ct., and WNPR to create the program “African American Storytelling: From Griot to Written Word.” Goings completed the epic poem in 2001, drawing on the traditions of West African griots to sing the history of blacks in the United States. The hour-long performance delineates and celebrates African American cultural history through a story-and-song adaptation of the poem.
Goings has had a colorful and varied career. One of the first African Americans to graduate from Xavier University in the 1950s, he played football for Xavier and recently returned to campus to sponsor a major exhibit of artwork by Romare Bearden, a Harlem renaissance artist with whom Goings developed a deep friendship.
A native of Stamford, Conn., Goings was inspired through his close friendship with Bearden to become a writer. His multiple life experiences include service in the U.S. Air Force training pilots in escape and evasion, playing professional football for the Buffalo Bills and becoming the first African American to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
He also was involved in the founding of Essence magazine, was the first black chairman of the Studio Museum in Harlem and became a dealer and collector of African-American art. He is a crusader for black empowerment, a rallying force for alumni of the Jesuit honor society, Alpha Sigma Nu, and an inner-city school volunteer.
At 77, Goings is still focusing on the future, still searching for new ways to improve his life and the lives of those around him intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. “I try to enrich the moment,” he says. “That’s what I got from the Jesuits at Xavier. If you enrich the moment, you get the other stuff.”