Mark Reynolds, a PopMatters contributor since 2004, writes cultural criticism, reviews and essays from the intersection of history, race and culture.
Mark began his journalism career in 1986 in his native Cleveland as a talk show host and news reporter for NPR affiliate WCPN-FM. From 1992 to 1998, he covered politics, education, local history, music, literature and film for the alternative newspaper Cleveland Free Times. He also freelanced for several Cleveland publications, including the daily Plain Dealer and alt-weekly Scene. His March 2003 Urban Dialect essay about his experiences in the alternative newspaper industry received statewide first-place honors for best media criticism from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Other credits include periods as a regular contributor to the trade magazine Black Meetings and Tourism, the weekly newspaper Philadelphia Tribune, and the entertainment magazine Hear/Say.
Concurrent with his journalism work, Mark spent 31 years with the U.S. Postal Service, mostly in corporate communications. From 1997 to 2003, he was the public relations representative for the Postal Service in Cleveland. He relocated to Philadelphia in 2004 to launch a monthly video newsletter for Postal Service employees in the Philadelphia region. In 2006, he moved to Chicago to serve as the district's corporate communications representative. Mark retired from the Postal Service in 2016 to accept a position at Antioch College (his alma mater) as Director of Marketing & Communications.
Mark's essay on Yellow Springs, OH is included in the Belt Publishing anthology "Red State Blues," published in June 2018.
Mark lives and works in Chicago, which is a pretty good place to pursue his particular beat. Wherever he roams in the world, Mark carries love for his wife and daughter, books he plans to read someday, and endless hope for Cleveland's confounding sports teams.
It's tempting to proclaim this moment in black pop as something akin to 2018's political Year of the Woman -- Year of the Sista, if you will. But today's unapologetically progressive female black pop artists stand on the shoulders of a most impressive cohort from the '90s and early '00s.
Robert Christgau is the rare critic who can write insightfully and passionately about a sweaty performance by a popular Congolese soukous band and a magisterial show by Senegal's Youssou N'Dour. That magic is captured in his latest anthology, Is It Still Good to Ya?
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" has been embedded in black America's DNA for more than 100 years. We've sung it every February ever since Black History Month was a thing, and every December since Kwanzaa was a thing.
The latest installment in Soul Jazz Records' Boombox series, tracing the evolution of recorded rap in the late '70s and early '80s, provides us with the useful reminder that once upon a time, rap had a sense of wonder, newness, and joie de vivre.
Theoharis's work is deeply (and sadly) relevant to our current condition. Many of the same issues Theoharis decries -- media inattention, liberal passivity on racial justice issues, government harassment of activists -- are still in play.