Lectures, Cultural Events Mark African American History Month

Monday, February 2, 2009

Saint Joseph's University will celebrate hundreds of years of African American history this month with several events focused on the cultural and political contributions of African Americans.

Members of the University community will participate in SJU's fifth annual African American Read-In on Monday, Feb. 2, at 3:30 p.m. in the Francis A. Drexel Library café. Part of a national program now in its 20th year, the event encourages attendees to share selections from favorite authors, poets, playwrights, musicians, essayists or historians.

Patricia J. Williams, a columnist for The Nation magazine, will present the sixth speech in the 2008-09 Diversity Lecture Series on Friday, Feb. 6, at 11 a.m. in the North Lounge of Campion Student Center. Williams is a professor of law at Columbia University and holds a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School. A member of the State Bar of California and the Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Williams has served on the advisory council for the Medgar Evers Center for Law and Social Justice of the City University of New York and on the board of governors for the Society of American Law Teachers, among others.

Susan Banyas and David Ornette Cherry will perform "No Strangers Here Today," a movement monologue with live music, on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 4 p.m. in the Chapel of St. Joseph-Michael J. Smith, S.J., Memorial. The production is based on the diary of a Quaker farmwoman whose family was a link in the Underground Railroad and has been performed in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; London, England; and at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Black Thought, lead singer of the legendary Philadelphia-based group The Roots, will present a diversity lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 4 p.m. in the Wolfington Teletorium of Mandeville Hall. Black Thought is recognized as one of the leading lyrical improvisers in rap. With an intense focus on live music, The Roots paved the way for live rap, building on a "hip-hop band" philosophy that focuses on live instrumentation at their concerts and in the studio.

"Saint Joseph's University is committed to embracing students from all diverse backgrounds, including different races, cultures, religions, orientations and socioecomic backgrounds." said Valerie Dudley, Ph.D., director of the Office of Institutional Diversity. "The celebration of African American History Month is a vital part of that commitment, and we strive to offer a high caliber of programming to reflect the importance of the tradition."

--Jeffrey Martin '04, '05 (M.A.)

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