WMU News

Events announced for Africana Studies Week

Feb. 4, 2005

KALAMAZOO--A series of events in honor of Africana Studies Week have been scheduled on Western Michigan University's main campus in Kalamazoo from Monday through Friday, Feb. 14-18.

The week has been celebrated during February, which is Black History Month, for the past three years. The theme for this year's celebration is "Black Love: Unified with Pride! Alive in 2005!"

The events scheduled, along with the their focus, are:

Monday, Feb. 14--Africana Studies Program open house, community focus, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 3rd floor conference room, Moore Hall; door prizes to be given away at 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 15--Black History Month quiz bowl competition, knowledge focus, 7 to 9 p.m., Brown Auditorium, Schneider Hall; $500 cash prize co-sponsored by the Division of Multicultural Affairs.

Wednesday, Feb. 16--Forum on the "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, Affirmative Action and the Future of Higher Education," awareness focus, 7 to 9 p.m., Brown Auditorium, Schneider Hall; sponsored by the Young Black Males Support Network.

Thursday, Feb. 17--Debate on "Who's to Blame--Black, White, or Both? Pimpin' and Hoe-in' hip hop culture," cultural focus, 7:30 to 9 p.m., Brown Auditorium, Schneider Hall; sponsored by the students in AFS 380 and HNRS 430.

Friday, Feb. 18--Conference on "Clarence, Condoleezza and Colin: Dismantling the House that Race Built," politics and academics focus, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in rooms 210-212 Bernhard Center.

As the culminating event for the week, the one-day conference is expected to draw a variety of scholars to campus to discuss the issue of race in the United States and its impact abroad.

Dr. Lawrence T. Potter, WMU associate professor of Africana studies and director of the Africana Studies Program, says many scholars and activists remain divided on whether race is a factor in Black America's struggle.

Potter notes that those who contend America has gotten beyond race point to high-level presidential nominations such as Clarence Thomas as a U.S. Supreme Court justice in 1991, Condoleezza Rice as national security advisor and Colin Powell as secretary of state in 2000, and Rice as secretary of state in 2004.

"Supposedly, we now live in a world where race as identity does not matter," he says. "Those appointments suggest that the war for civil rights has been won. But has it? Are these affirmative action appointments or are they proof that America has transcended racism altogether?"

A main feature of the conference will be the keynote luncheon address by Dr. Karla Holloway, dean of humanities and social sciences at Duke University, will be the conference's keynote luncheon speaker. Holloway also is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and a professor of African and African American studies. Her research and teaching interests include literacy, cultural studies, language, 20th-century American and African American literature, and linguistics.

Holloway has written five books. Her most recent work, "Passed On: African-American Mourning Stories," is a cultural and historic look at bereavement, death, dying and burial in 20th-century African America. Her other books are "Codes of Conduct: Race, Ethics and the Color of Our Character"; "Figures of Culture and Gender in Black Women's Literature"; "The Character of the Word: The Texts of Zora Neale Hurston"; and New Dimensions of Spirituality: A BiRacial and BiCultural Reading of the Novels of Toni Morrison."

WMU's Africana Studies Program and the Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations are serving as hosts for the conference. The event is being cosponsored by those units as well as the University's Office of the Provost, College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office, Office of Institutional Equity, and Department of English.

For more information, contact Dr. Lawrence Potter at (269) 387-2668 or <lawrence.potter_jr@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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