Russell Goings was one of the first African Americans to graduate from Xavier University in the 1950s and was also the first African American to own a brokerage firm on Wall Street. He sponsored a major exhibit a few years ago at Xavier of art by Romare Bearden, which he obtained through a long friendship with the Harlem renaissance artist.
Fairfield University, the Jesuit university in Fairfield, Connecticut, and WNPR collaborated on the program "African American Storytelling: From Griot to Written Word," an exploration of Goings’ poem "The Birth of 'The Children of Children Keep Coming: an Epic Griotsong." In 2001, Goings completed the epic 309-page poem that draws 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. Tony Award®-winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell narrates. WVXU (91.7 FM) will broadcast the program on February 21 at 8:00 pm.
Goings, a native of Stamford, Conn., was inspired to write through his close friendship with the celebrated African American painter and collagist Romare Bearden. He has realized success in the U.S. Air Force training pilots in escape and evasion, as a professional football player, as the first African American to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, key in the founding of Essence magazine, as the first black chairman of the Studio Museum in Harlem, dealer and collector of African-American art, crusader for black empowerment, rallying force for alumni of the Jesuit honor society, Alpha Sigma Nu, and as 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.”