June 16, 2020
“A conspiracy of ritual, street theater, soul music, and cinema.”
Formed on Malcolm X’s birthday in 1968 in East Harlem, The Original Last Poets consisted of Gylan Kain, David Nelson, and Felipe Luciano.
Taking their name from a poem by South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile – who believed he was in the last era of poetry before guns would take over – the group’s combination of poetry and music played a pivotal role in the development of hip-hop.
The 1971 film Right On! offers a glimpse into the radical and revolutionary nature of their work – capturing 28 spoken-word performances by The Original Last Poets across the streets and rooftops of lower Manhattan,
“Right On! is a street cry, is a clenched fist. Right On! rises out of Black and 3rd World America. Right On! is now a film, the first ever made of poetry. Not the dead stuff of libraries. Guerrilla poetry: a revolutionary art of / by young poets / actors / warriors.”
MoMA’s restoration has been developed from the recovered 35mm negatives, and features a new introduction by Luciano.
Right On! will stream through Thursday 18th June 2020 – watch the film in full above and head here for more info.