A Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out

A Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



I was barely 21 and was just devouring Baraka, Baldwin, Brecht, and a host of

Black Arts Movement artists – which shaped and inspired me to find my own cultural/political voice

and gave me the confidence to trust in my own visions and pursue directing.



A Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out 

A Letter to Amin Sharif

from Dennis Leroy Moore

No one who makes over $40, 000 a year should be in the leadership of the party. And, there should be restrictions on political contributions from corporations. I rather have a party build on the pennies of the poor than the millions confiscated by our oppressors.  – Amin Sharif


Amin, that statement you wrote to Rudy Lewis has been revolving in my head for some time. And I can’t seem to escape it.  It is precisely what needs to happen. I have wanted to contact you for sometime. My hectic schedule and my own personal life has been getting in the way.

I was roused and inspired by your “Dark Child of the Fourth World” manifesto/essay.  I do not need to tell you how brilliant it is – you must know that already. I must say I do believe in everything you have written and am even more interested in how to slowly begin to disseminate your work and realize it.  Fanon would only be a name on a book if others didn’t try to fulfill and test out what he proposed. 

That is one of the biggest problems I have with my generation – we tend to romanticize – if not poke fun –  at the past and seek to take very little political action ourselves. And we have no clue how to incorporate or build upon political theories and ideas that have already been proposed. The artists, for the most part are afraid and sheepish and our young political activists are not engaged or offering anything new or interesting. At least that is how it seems to me.

Your words and ideas are full of clarity and true passion. It was almost psychedelic when reading it. I mean that in its truest and most positive sense. Often I get aggravated and even amused at what most so-called “thinkers” or scholars or activists write and I what planet is this person living on?  Are they for real?  And then a real thinker such as yourself comes along with no pretension and just a real point of view and honest place and soulful intent. 

That to me is the major problem – very few of our contemporary thinkers and artists (black, white, Arab, etc.) all over the globe seem to lack a real soul, a real pocket of convictions. It bothers me greatly when I see the heart, sweat, and passion (even if some of it is misleading) of the Palestinian or Muslim youth in other parts of the world and they seem so full of emotion and heart that is often shocks us in the West because we are not really used to seeing people feel and react that much.  

Certainly the USA would not stand for that amount of emoting from Black people in these times and that is dangerous.  We are too clean and there is too much “order.” And too much order restricts and destroys creativity, political urgency, and the desire to free the soul.

I am a filmmaker/dramatist currently in Berlin with my wife. I am preparing now for my first feature film—As an Act of Protest—to premiere in Germany next month in April as part of the Black International Cinema festival.

It is a real honor to be in communication with you. I mean that sincerely and with much appreciation and love for your work. I only recently have begun to read your words and study your thoughts and work. I was ignorant and rather late to the table—on you and your contributions, but better late than never, right?

A Brief History

I am a guerilla filmmaker.  A kind of avant-garde-political-narrative filmmaker-theatrical dramatist.  My background is in theater and I was born in New York and was lucky to receive a scholarship to study acting at Julliard when I was eighteen.  I was the first one in my family to ever get a scholarship – but not much came to it and left Julliard in my third year, absolutely fed up with their Euro-centrism and racist attitudes towards black actors, writers, etc. 

I was barely 21 and was just devouring Baraka, Baldwin, Brecht, and a host of Black Arts Movement artists – which shaped and inspired me to find my own cultural/political voice and gave me the confidence to trust in my own visions and pursue directing.

I successfully directed and revived some of the black classic dramas (Dutchman, Blues for Mister Charlie) and eventually swamped the off-Broadway scene in Greenwich Village and headed uptown to set Harlem ablaze. With my small group of black comrades, I worked and developed my voice at the famed National Black Theater in Harlem. 

We even had a wonderfully interesting and racially-mixed milieu at the time that didn’t seem fake or frustrated and that was a positive thing. This beautiful period ended with the corporate takeover of that theater (JP Morgan Chase Bank) – although it is still to this denied but many people. Eventually I had found myself without a theater, doing drugs, and on the edge of sanity.  

In 1999-2000, I worked with Ed Bullins and wrote my first screenplay. I was basically learning by doing and getting a crash course with a master playwright. Eventually, I decided I would make my own film and start expressing how I really felt about things and my own political frustrations. I was about as far left as they come at that time (pre 9/11) and I was cloistered with so much great energy and black consciousness while in Harlem.  

So when I wrote and directed my first feature film, As an Act of Protest, an epic drama about the psychological effects of racism on a young black actor, I had the freedom and confidence to go about it because I was in such a warm and supportive environment. At least I thought I was.

I edited all throughout 2001 and the film was premiered not too long after 9/11 – so you know what that meant. No one was interested. When I say no one – I mean no one.  Black film critic Armond White refused to review it! Especially in that heady and convoluted time – an angry political drama that severely criticized the Mayor of New York Guiliani and the police brutality – was not in fashion (was it really ever?).

Still, the film found its own audience – mainly on the fringes of Black college groups and art circles and on the film festival circuit. It has become something of a cult film and it actually kept me living for two years of my life. Not bad for an indie filmmaker who considered himself a voice of and for the people.

Still, despite some positive and interesting critical response, no distributor would touch the film. It was deemed “too black” and “too long” (it runs nearly two and a half hours) and “too angry.”  White people felt it was too accusatory and you know white people don’t like feeling guilty. Black people felt it was simply too strange, too personal (how can art be too personal??) and too hostile at the “older generation.” 

You see, besides one or two people  – a good portion of Black people in their 50s and up felt alienated by the film. What is even more interesting is that very few older Black men (outside of the very supportive syndicated columnist Kam Williams or artist-activist like Marvin X, for example)  – understood or appreciated the movie. I think it is always great when art divides people because it reveals a level of honesty – but this was different.

Older black women didn’t have such a rabid offensive stand when they saw it – they either just fell asleep or ignored it. For the most part, however, black older women liked the film and younger black men liked the film. Older Black men didn’t like it and at times this really got to me. I couldn’t understand what was happening and then I realized: …it was because my main character, Cairo, felt deeply alone in his political frustrations, his cultural fragmentation, and his ideological principles.

A lot of black people were uncomfortable with that – seeing a lone character constantly suffering; maybe it was a bit much for them to bear I don’t know.  But that was how I felt in my twenties – how could I deny that and why shouldn’t I express that? Personally, I felt that Cairo encompassed a great deal of my generation and what the sensitive and conscious young black men and women knew.  He just had no political program and neither did his friend, Abner – who represents the impassioned artist.

They needed a helping hand and didn’t know how to lead themselves, I suppose. Unfortunately, they were not in touch with an Amin Sharif or an understanding voice of an older generation – who was willing to take the time to listen to them.  The Last Poets are featured in the film and Umar Bin Hassan sort of represented that positive elder statesman, but at that part in the film – he was there as a guiding artist and Cairo was already thinking about abandoning the stage and picking up a gun.

The tone and mood that I felt in Dark Child of the Fourth World is akin to the tremors that filled Cairo and the film itself. I only wish I had read it and had been acquainted with your work in 2001 when I was making the film.

All Cairo knew was that the racism around him was killing him inside and no one would help. I got a lot of patronizing comments about this from people. “Oh, please, no one feels racism that much” or “Why is he so bothered??” and “Who can be so sensitive?!” and bla bla bla. . . . I was trying to make a stations-of-the-cross film and some people just weren’t having that.  Uh-uh, no way-Jose. Perhaps it was a matter of my idiosyncratic style (even my humor – unlike Spike Lee’s – was lost on a lot of people).

In any event, the older generation in the film (40s and up) appears to have given up fighting politically and really teaching. They just simply appear to not have the time or be interested. All they want to do is berate the youth. The younger folks (30s and below) are fighting amongst themselves, but are desperately searching for solutions (creative) and outlets. But the whole film becomes a nightmare: with no communication, no generational understandings, and haunted spiritual battles.

I was proud of the film. It is no great work (I am no great artist) – but it reveals an honesty and urgency that I am proud of and it explores the levels of melodrama, political documentary, and naturalism quite well. I like to think of it as Fanon meets Chekhov.  I was proud of its truthful rage and political searching, my editing, and the actors performances. Most of all, I was and am – proud of its far reaching Pan-Africanist feel and tone and the fact that it illustrates the angst of our times, a sudden bark from the mouth of the children of the Fourth World.

I screened the film to a few Arab artists and activists the other night, informally.  They instantly saw themselves in the film. Some were very receptive and could appreciate the Pan-African and my “Fourth World” sentiments. And then I couldn’t resist – I begged my wife to run home and print out a few copies of your essay – and I read it to the small group of ten, with my wife doing a hurried translation. It was incredible.  There was such a powerful energy that gripped us, but of course we were left with the same conundrum: What next? 

I would like to print parts of the essay in my press kit for the European Tour of the film and I would be honored if you would write a brief comment or two on the movie – for the press kit. I think it is a good way of beginning to spread the consciousness and political urgency of your ideas.  I actually think we could make an interesting joint-project.  All the more revealing, coming from two different generations – but that is exactly what people need to see:  that the black consciousness is alive and well and swelling on both sides of the coin. 

A few of the Arabs I shared your work with were interested in many of the things you wrote, some of course – were taken aback. They still don’t quite get the Black American (Muslim name) connection.  It is strange to see the lack of consciousness in some of their enclaves, especially when I brought up the Sudan. That’s really where you could see who was up to snuff in their revolutionary impulses for Brotherhood and their contempt for Western oppression and even their own inability to be honest about how Arabs have treated Africans.

Anyway, I would love to hear your comments or get your initial reaction to the film – I always enjoy sharing my work when I can. Please send me your address. Ironically, the film will be released in the USA in the fall—Sept.2006—by Voyager Film Company (, a small, progressive, black art-film company in New York. I was shocked when they announced their interest.

After four years, I had finally acquired a distributor – three months ago. Thank God, I thought, maybe now I will be able to pay my rent on time every month and one day and not be worried about being evicted from wherever we go. Being an independent filmmaker is no exotic-fetish the way Miramax or American media makes it seem. If you are really independent, you are really…well…independent.

I am currently teaching, acting, and working on a few new scripts. I plan to make a second feature independently, back in the States, next year. 

Still, seeing As an Act of Protest here in Berlin will be rather intense. It will be interesting, considering that fascism is quickly on the rise out here and is finding a way of revealing its claws in sync with the American way of doing things.  Fascinating time, if not a chilling one…

So, in a nutshell that is a quick quick rundown of who I am and what I do and what I am up to.

Artists, Activists, Teachers—anyone with a heart and soul and with a conscious fear and concern for the now and the future—must work together.  Share ideas, offer suggestions, share and support each other’s art or political theses – and most importantly show the world that we are supportive of each other and all the political consequences that that implies.

After seeing the results of the Berlin film festival last night (I don’t even want to go into the statements made by some of the West’s “leading film artists”—a joke in itself—on the East-West tension and Denmark’s racist and near-malicious acts). I am convinced that if the European old and young are committed in their stance of imperialism and making “jokes” out of everything, then there really is no excuse or reason why we shouldn’t begin to bond and assert our views, visions, and work—to combat the rising tide of ignorance, oppression, destruction, and racism that is continuing to destroy the world.

Peace to you, Dennis Leroy Moore

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Fourth World Essays

Afro-America & The Fourth World 

The Black Middle Class & a Political Party of the Poor  (essay)

Dark Child of the Fourth World  

The Fourth World and the Marxists

The Fourth World: In the Belly of the Beast

New Orleans: The American Nightmare

On the Fourth World: Black Power, Black Panthers, and White Allies

Why I Support the Latino Demonstrators


Other Fourth World Essays

African America – A Fourth World 

(Waldron H. Giles)

Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out   (Dennis Leroy Moore)

Fourth World Introduction (M.P. Parameswaran)

 Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist  (M.P. Parameswaran)

The Fourth World Multiculturalism (Rose Ure Mezu)

Fourth World Programme M.P. Parameswaran)

Neo-Liberalism Dictatorship of the Market  M.P. Parameswaran)

The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World  M.P. Parameswaran)

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As an Act of Protest

written and directed by Dennis Leroy Moore

A powerful mixture of melodrama, documentary, horror and political theate


While watching As an Act of Protest, independent filmmaker Dennis Leroy Moore’s significant film, the cinematic legend whose work most readily came to mind was John Cassavettes. As was true in a Cassavettes film, I felt as though the principal actors weren’t so much acting as they were pouring out before the camera, depictions of the way people really behave…it is in the scenes where Abner and Cairo discuss with each other, their rage as African American men, that the film is so compelling.–Hugh Pearson, author of When Harlem Nearly Killed King (


…Through its frontal attack, it lets the audience seek solutions rather than presenting them as easy answers…The performances are solid–with the lead actors turning in gut-wrenching reality…It is so refreshing to see a movie that is raw, real–sweats–without glitzy special effects or pablum solutions.— Brent Buell, NY Filmmaker/Teacher (

As an Act of Protest – Best Black Movie Nobody Will See This Year.–Kam Williams, The Black World Today, November 27, 2002

Powerful…’As an Act of Protest’ aims to teach and shock – and succeeds on both counts…–Walter Dawkins, Variety, August 1, 2002

Raw, provocative, and demanding.–Cara Buckley,  The Miami Herald, June 17, 2002


Race is an unspoken issue in America today…There’s no public education for the white to understand what the nonwhite is going through.  That’s why this film is important.”–Ayuko Babu, founder/director of the Pan African Film Festival


All true Black artists will be proud Dennis Leroy Moore captured the agony and ecstasy of being a black artist in America.–Marvin X, poet and playwright, This Crazy House Called America

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Film Synopsis

As an Act of Protest is “an internal Battle of Algiers.”  It is a poetic cinematic essay on racism and its psychological effects.  It is an avant garde movie that is more like a tone poem or classical black theater piece rather than a foray into conventional narrative cinema and it’s style flows from documentary and melodrama to satire and horror. 

The movie follows the the “rite-of-passage-stations-of-the-cross” journey of a young, passionate, apollonian African American actor named Cairo Medina and his early artistic trials and tribulations with his director and dionysiac kindred spirit, Abner Sankofa.  Together, after leaving a NYC Theater conservatory, they form a theatre group in Harlem and try to revive the Black Arts Movement, which had such an impact on the theater community in the 1960s. 

However, after years of doing productions and protest plays, Cairo begins to question his role as an actor and the artists seemingly futile contributions and dwindling impact in an ever increasing oppressive, hypocritical, and apathetic world.  The terrain around Cairo, too, seems to be full of inner contradiction because New York City seems to have become the bastion of police brutality against black men. 

The Mayor of NYC denies the insidious racism of his police officers when Cairo’s brother is murdered by two policemen.  After a series of dissolved relationships, betrayals, and confrontations with the system, Cairo is pushed over the line from which there can be no retreat.  The film ends traumatically with a comment on racism and the violence that it breeds and the unfortunate, tragic, never ending cycle of hate, prejudice, and ignorance of history and “original sin” that America must come to terms with.

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Log Line

A cinematic tone poem set in NYC that focuses in on a young black actor and his “rite-of-passage” journey to find the meaning of his life and eradicate the racism and brutality that continue to plague our world.

Produced by John Brown X Productions

Written, Directed, & Editor               Dennis Leroy Moore

Producers                                         Melissa Dymock

Original Score                                   Michael Wimberly

Editors                                              John Burns & Dennis Leroy Moore

Director of Photography                    Mark Banning

Art Director                                      Angie Saidel

Theater Lighting                                Coujoe Marson

Make up                                           Lisa Ramona Mendez

Dance choreography                         Kevin Thomas

Fight choreography                           Daniel Teeter

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Characters                                        Actors


Cairo Medina                          Luis Laporte

Abner Sankofa                        Dennis Leroy Moore

Karen Thomas                        Crystal Mayo

JJ Banks                                  Steven E.Dye

Professor Eastman                   Ward Nixon

The Mayor                              Joe Rastello

The Last Poets                       Umar Bin Hassan

                                              Abiodun Oyewole

                                              Babatunde “Don Eaton”

Charlotte                                 Sarah Lewis

Roy (Cairo’s father)                Akeem Baptista           

Julia (Cairo’s mother)               Joy Alexander

Stephanie                                Bianca van Heydoorn

Manthia Eastman                     Robbyne Kaamil

Karl Gerbells                          Alexander Riesle

Michelle Jackson                     Leah Herman

Madame Dupree                     Angie Saidel

Actor #1(in dressing room)      Damien Smith

Dean Crowell                          Thomas Gamache

Gordy (Mayor’s son)               Daniel Teeter

Georgie (Cairo’s brother)         Mtume J.Gant

Stefan (Theater crew)              Lanny Isis

Police Officers                         Rafael Novoa

                                               Charlie Monroe

                                               Stephen Innocenzi

                                               Gene Forman


Pig Leader (white boy in mask)    David Turley

Thanksgiving Guests                John A.Royster

                                               Valerie Royster

                                               Doreen Belliveaus Phillips

                                               Neil Phillips

                                               R. Ashton Wall

Dancers                                  Kevin Thomas

                                               Melissa Morissey

Mayor’s Bodyguards               Leon Sadoff

                                               Waliek Crandall

*   *   *   *   *

Video Format

Shot on mini DV with a Canon XL-1. Screening format DVCAM, VHS, SP BETA

Film History

Pan African Film Festival, Los Angeles – February 2002

American Black Film Festival, South Beach Miami – June 2002

Anthology Film Archives, NYC – July and October 2002

Brecht Forum-Visual Liberation Film festival, NYC – September 2002

Imagenation Cinema Cafe, Harlem, NYC – November 2002

Afro-American Cultural Center, Charlotte, North Carolina – February 2003

UNC, Chapel Hill Honorarium Screening – February 2003

FESPACO Film Festival Burkina Faso, Africa – February 2003

The Oberia Dempsey Center, Harlem, NYC – February 2003

Cine Noir Black Film Festival, Wilmington NC – April 2003

Denver Pan African Film Festival, Denver, CO – April 2003

Parish Art Gallery sponsored by Awareness magazine-James Lisbon – July 2003

Florida State University-Tallahassee Honorarium Screening – February 2004

Brecht Forum Downtown – Lower Manhattan, NYC – August 2005

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Biography —Director/Writer

Dennis Leroy Moore, American filmmaker, was born in 1976 in Queens, New York. His parents were originally from Port of Spain, Trinidad and his roots trace all the way back to Bengal in India and Senegal in Africa.

Moore moved to Berlin with his wife, actress/artist Nina Fleck, in July 2005 in order to get a change of pace and to meet artists abroad who could offer new ideas and inspirations, while taking the time to reflect on the social, political, and artistic problems in the United States. The culturally stagnant, artistically stale, and politically conservative tide that seemed to be developing in the United States over the past four years were also a huge influence on Moore’s decision to come to Europe.

As an Act of Protest is Moore’s feature film debut and he has literally begged, borrowed, and stolen to support his art. He is an admirer of avant garde and foreign films, and his favorite directors include artists such as John Cassavetes, Haile Gerima, Spike Lee, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Lars Von Trier.

Moore originally studied classical acting and performed Shakespeare at the prestigious Julliard Conservatory (1994-1997) before leaving to pursue his art and passion for directing. He has studied abroad in Russia, directed and taught in Harlem, has had the opportunity to work with elder statesmen of the Black Arts Movement, including Ed Bullins, Marvin X, and the Last Poets who are featured in As an Act of Protest.

He independently produced and directed several plays in the 1990s throughout New York City and was voted as one of the Best Directors of the 1990s by the Greenwich Village Here Theater. Dennis has curated readings, workshopped new plays, and was the very first artist to induct a Black Theater Seminar in Lincoln Center as well as perform a staged reading in Alice Tully Hall, which established the “Wednesday at One” series.

Some of his theater credits include: Bertolt Brecht’s In the Jungle of the Cities, Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman, Jean Genet’s The Maids, and James Baldwin’s classic Blues for Mister Charlie.

Moore is currently seeking representation in Europe and, like all independent directors, is beginning the hard task to raise money for two new feature films, Swan Song, a drama about a woman’s attempt to bury her husband near the last swan in Germany and Wretched – a mysterious and allegorical chamber drama about captialism, memories, and slavery.

He teaches acting at TheaterHaus Mitte and is workshopping an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Jungle of Cities – A Savage Paw – with women in the lead roles for the Friends of Italian Opera’s Lab series.

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Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

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Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

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W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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posted 21 February 2006 / update 1 July 2008 





   Dennis Leroy Moore Table

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