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Renee Thomas

Bill Caise

Juanita Crider

Jamillah Gabriel

Jolivette Anderson-Douoning

Lisa Sultemeier

Loretta Davidson and Michael Sullivan, Staff Writers

Welcome to Purdue University

Welcome to Purdue University! On behalf of the Black Cultural Center , I extend my congratulations on your acceptance to Purdue University. You represent the best and most talented students in the country and around the world. The college experience is an exciting time – of dreams, hopes and fears, great joys, major adjustments and some disappointments. It is a time to grow and learn.

The Black Cultural Center is a place where the African American experience is explored, celebrated and shared. The center provides an intellectually stimulating and comprehensive program by sponsoring an array of special lecturers, performances by distinguished artists and alumni speakers who enhance cultural diversity and improve campus life at Purdue. The BCC publishes a monthly newsletter, houses a library offering a variety of materials on African American culture, and a computer lab, all providing support for your educational needs.

BCC Staff

Black Cultural Center staff strives to provide a welcoming, supportive and caring environment. We are here to enable you to achieve academic, intellectual and personal success at Purdue University. I encourage you to actively participate in BCC programs and activities this fall. Please utilize the BCC library for research and studying, and take full advantage of the computer lab. Your involvement in the BCC will enhance the social, cultural and intellectual vitality of campus life and will promote your personal growth and development.

The Black Cultural Center has planned two special events for first year African American students, Boilerfest and the BCC Performing Arts Ensemble callout and orientation. The purpose of these programs is to introduce you to the Purdue community and the various services available to assist you in achieving your educational goals. The events are highlighted in this newsletter. The BCC staff is anxious to get to know you personally. Staff at the BCC empower students and promote cultural and academic success. Please stop by the BCC and introduce yourself. I am confident you will appreciate the way in which all of us share in your dreams and goals. The BCC looks forward to playing a vital role in your educational journey at Purdue.


Renee A. Thomas 

Introducing the Ensembles...

If you sing, dance, love creative writing or get dramatic on stage, then check out the BCC. We sponsor four performing groups in dance, drama, music, and creative writing to explore African American/African Diaspora traditions and experiences through artistic engagement. Or if you prefer to engage in provocative discussions and exploring subjects in depth to foster critical thinking, then check out The Black Thought Collective. Each ensemble is instructed by a professional Artist/Scholar-In-Residence.

Black Thought Collective

Black Thought Collective

Taking on a think tank approach, the Black Thought Collective (BTC) blends seamlessly with the existing BCC Performing Arts Ensembles, with a Scholar-in-Residence who works with the student coordinator to oversee the group. BTC has three standing committees that provide opportunities for all members. “Black Thought in the Media” focuses on current events publicized via local, national and global media; “Past to Present” explores black history and culture focusing on the resources of the BCC library and other campus departments; and “The Awareness Movement” concentrates on future action to better educate Purdue students, faculty, staff and the greater Lafayette community on black history, black culture and black thought.

Black Thought Collective presented at the 2009, 2011, and 2013 National Council of Black Studies Conference. BTC also hosts a spring symposium where they present individual research on the fall semester theme.

Jahari Dance Troupe

Jahari Dance Troupe

Named for the Swahili word, meaning “jewel,” the Jahari Dance Troupe is trained in a variety of techniques in black dance from traditional to contemporary. Over the years, Jahari’s repertoire has come to include African, Caribbean, ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, and tap. The troupe has received instruction from internationally recognized dancers and choreographers. The troupe has performed widely across the Midwest and has also been involved with cultural exchange programs with similar dance companies in the region. Kevin Iega Jeff is the Artist-In-Residence for Jahari. Jeff is the artistic/producing director and one of the co-founders of Deeply Rooted Productions, which is the umbrella company for Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT). The current relationship between Jahari and DRDT has expanded beyond the traditional since Jeff came to work with the ensemble during the 2004-2005 academic year. Each year Jeff has several members of the professional staff of DRDT share their areas of dance expertise with Jahari members. This expanded relationship will continue to build Jahari’s repertoire again this year.

Black Voices of Inspiration

Black Voices of Inspiration

The Black Voices of Inspiration (BVOI) choral ensemble is made up of student and community individuals committed to the performance of music enhanced by the musical traditions and experiences of African Americans.

The ensemble’s concert literature includes spirituals, jazz, blues, gospel, anthems, hymns, and contemporary music. The group has received international acclaim as a part of the 1999 Voices of America concert tour to Australia, New Zealand and, Fiji. BCC full-time Artist-In-Residence, Dr. Twana A. Harris, is responsible for conducting weekly master choral classes and preparing BVOI for ensemble engagements. In addition to teaching, her professional experience includes 15 years as a composer and arranger. Dr. Harris is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association and The Music Educator’s Association. She is a recipient of the Vocal Extravaganza Solo Award, an honor received in a competition among black university choirs and soloists.

Haraka Writers

Haraka Writers

The Haraka Writers are a collective body of student and community writers committed to literary expression of the black experience. Haraka is a Swahili word that means “expression.” Through essays, prose, poetry, and short stories, the Haraka writers strive to reinforce the essential bonds that give hope and strength to people. To much of their credit, four publications of the Haraka Writers are currently in print: “Ebony Thoughts”, “Black Expression of Life and Love”, “Poems for a Sun Lady”, and the 1987 “Haraka Reader” containing selections from the writers workshop was published. The most recent publication in which the Haraka Writers appear is entitled, Eclipsing a Nappy New Millennium- An Anthology of Contemporary Midwestern Poetry. Haraka is under the direction of Artist-In-Residence Khari Bowden, a.k.a. Discopoet Khari B. Khari B. has been performing poetry since 1992. His presence has been requested and hailed internationally. He also has been recognized for his talents by the late great Gwendolyn Brooks and performed with renowned Last Poets via a personal invitation. He is the host of the “The Soul Poetry Cafe,” which is recognized as the nation’s largest open mic show.

New Directional Players

New Directional Players

Since its debut in 1971,the New Directional Players have become a highly respected theatrical company. NDP’s repertoire ranges from outstanding works by masters of black theater to original pieces by emerging writers and playwrights. Along with presenting traditional plays, the ensemble also performs poetry, dramatic monologues, one acts, musicals, and adapted works. Each production is designed to generate social awareness about various Afro-centric issues. NDP performs various engagements during the school year both on and off campus. NDP is also under the direction of Artist-In-Residence Kecha Nickson-Kambe who serves as an adjunct professor at Elmhurst College and lecturer at Chicago State.

BCC ensembles

Bold, cutting edge, culturally relevant performances that foster understanding is the aim of the BCC Performing Arts Ensembles.

Join us this fall!

Save the Dates...

BCC Performing Arts Ensembles Call Outs
Tuesday, August 27 and Wednesday August 28, 2013
6:30 pm @ The Black Cultural Center
Multipurpose Room 1

“Gullah Folklore: (Re) Memoring Our Pathways Through Low Country Legacies”

BCC Fall 2013 Research Tour:
Savannah, GA and St. Helena Island, SC

The Purdue Black Cultural Center will sponsor a five day fall research tour to Savannah and St. Helena Island, South Carolina Friday October 4-8, 2013. The African American experience in the Georgia and South Carolina low country has been and continues to be an important and integral part of American history. The Gullah culture began during the enslavement of African people in America and is directly related to West African culture, traditions and language. Participants on the research tour will learn about the preservation of the Gullah heritage. Our tour is designed to be an immersion experience that encompasses scholarly, artistic and cultural exploration of African American history and life. Through a combination of course readings, site tours, and presentations by experts on Gullah culture you will learn about Low Country culture and the history and the soul of the African American experience. Students will also participate in hands-on demonstrations and workshops in Sweet Grass basket sewing, Indigo stamping and musical performances. You will also participate in poetry & dance master classes, and learn storytelling techniques and dramatization of the unique Gullah rituals.

Stained Glass Window

A famous stained glass window from First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia; featuring images of the first through seventh pastors of the congregation.

The registration fee for the tour is $1,200 which includes roundtrip transportation, lodging and most meals. However, due to the generous support of BCC donors, the tour is available to you for only $350.00. The tour is limited to 45 students. Membership in one of the BCC performing arts ensembles is required for you to participate. If you are interested in joining the tour, please contact Renee Thomas, BCC director at rathomas@purdue.edu. A companion class AAS 491 – Gullah Folklore will be offered on Monday and Wednesdays at 3pm. We encourage all tour participants to register for the 3 credit class instructed by BCC assistant director Bill Caise. Feel free to call the BCC at 765-494-3091 if you have any questions. The tour is filling up quickly so please register early to secure your spot.

Coiled Baskets

The art of coiled basket making was introduced to the Low country in the 17th century by enslaved West Africans. It is one of the oldest art forms of African origin in the United States.

The Black Cultural Center Library

Welcome to the BCC Library

The Black Cultural Center library is charged with the special mission of preserving knowledge in the fields of Black Studies. It is the only library on campus, which specializes in materials related to the historical, sociological, political, and cultural aspects of the lives of African American people.

The Black Cultural Center Library presently contains more then 7,000 books and subscribes to more than 40 periodicals including popular magazines, scholarly journals, and newspapers. Periodicals holdings include such titles as the Black Masks: Spotlight on Black Art, Ebony, Essence, International Journal of African Renaissance Studies, Journal of African American Studies, NSBE: The National Society of Black Engineers Magazine and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society. Other materials in the collection are a comprehensive vertical file of newspaper clippings and tape recordings of selected programs and events. Current subscriptions to state and regional newspapers include the Chicago Defender, Frost Illustrated (Fort Wayne), Gary Crusader, Indiana Herald, and Indianapolis Recorder.

BCC library lecture

Unique to the collection are recordings of lectures or readings presented by renowned scholars, poets, politicians, artists, and activists sponsored by the Black Cultural Center Cultural Arts Series. Recordings of presentations by Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Mary Frances Berry, John Henrik Clarke, John Hope Franklin, Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, Sweet Honey In the Rock and many others are held by the Black Cultural Center library.

The library maintains a web site which contains selected bibliographies, book reviews by Purdue graduate students, and discussion questions for some of the books in the Juvenile Collection. External links to resources relating to the Black experience worldwide are connected. Patrons may use the designated computer terminal for public use or may bring their laptops for wireless connection for use of the online catalog or other digitized learning resources.

The library serves to enhance the patron’s knowledge of the African-American heritage by providing information which can be examined for academic research and/or personal growth. The BCC Library works in cooperation with Purdue Libraries. Its cataloged holdings are included in the Purdue Libraries online catalog.

All Purdue students, faculty and staff may borrow materials and use the services of the Black Cultural Center library. The public is encouraged to use the collection.

Boilerfest 2013

Mark your calendars for Thursday, August 22 from 4-6 p.m. in the BCC parking lot for BOILERFEST 2013!


Boilerfest introduces new students to the BCC, various student organizations, and campus support services. Join us in celebrating the BCC fall semester theme “Gullah Folklore: (Re)Membering Our pathways through Low Country Legacies” Come out for an afternoon filled with food, music and fun. See you there!

Upcoming BCC Events.......

Performing Arts Ensemble Call Outs

Tuesday and Wednesday August 27-38, 2013
6:30 p.m.

If you are interested in joining one of the ensembles or even thinking about it, you are invited to come out and see what it is all about!

Dream Weaving Gullah Stories & Songs: Featuring Ron & Natalie Daise

Thursday, September 5, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Fowler Hall, Stewart Center

A spellbinding presentation of the customs, beliefs, folkways, language and heritage of the Gullah people. The dreams, joys and spirit of the Gullah people are woven with humor, harmony and humanity.

Antonio Zamora: Jazz Jubilee for Children, Parents and the Public

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The BCC celebrates Band Weekend by honoring Director Emeritus, Antonio Zamora by educating children and adults about a truly African American musical art form, Jazz! Participants will enjoy improvisation activities using vocals, musical movement and hear traditional Gullah storytelling. Budding and seasoned performers can bring their instruments for a workshop on improvisation with a live jazz band.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
“This Just In: Latest Discoveries In The Universe”

Thursday, September 19, 2013
7:00 pm
Elliott Hall of Music

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of America’s foremost authorities on space science. Through his numerous books, various social media outlets, and TV appearances ranging from PBS and the History Channel to The Colbert Report and The Big Bang Theory, this astrophysicist is also one of the field’s most ardent and playful, ambassadors. Tyson is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and a member of NASA’s prestigious Advisory Council.