'Unmasking Blackness through Rhythm, Culture, Celebration' theme of BCC's Fall Cultural Arts Series

August 27, 2014  

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Exploring the culture of the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago is the focus of the Fall Cultural Arts Series at the Purdue University Black Cultural Center.

"Unmasking Blackness through Rhythm, Culture, and Celebration" will feature a research tour to Trinidad and Tobago, speakers, music and other performances.

"Without a doubt, the fall 2014 semester at the Black Cultural Center promises to be one of the most extraordinary and creatively vibrant semesters in our history," said Renee Thomas, BCC director. "For over a decade our cultural arts series programming has moved us in innovative directions and culturally rich locations. This year we will turn our attention to the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago to explore the culture and artistic brilliance embedded in our theme 'Unmasking Blackness through Rhythm, Culture, and Celebration.'

"Our thematic approach will include diverse opportunities for the campus and community to experience lectures and workshops from prominent guest speakers and thinkers in the areas of civil and gender rights, as well as energetic performances from carnival traditions involving masking, steel pan percussion, calypso, and much more."

Students in the BCC's performing arts ensembles will travel to Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10-14 to learn about the festivities relevant to Carnival and island folk traditions.

"Carnival is a global event, one of the biggest celebrations in the Western hemisphere," Thomas said. "It's not one event in one location, but a year-round gathering across many nations and places."

Students also will conduct research at the University of West Indies and the National Museum of Trinidad, and participate in master class instruction and site visits.

Upcoming events, which are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted, include:

* Thursday (Aug. 28). 4-6 p.m. Black Cultural, 1100 Third St. Annual Boilerfest New Student Orientation. The casual outdoor program introduces new students to the BCC, various student organizations and support services. The event will begin the celebration of the fall theme and feature a live DJ, performances by BCC ensembles, carnival dancers and food representative of Trinidad/Brazilian culture and cuisine. The Planeta Azul Samba band from Chicago will perform.

* Sept. 6. Immediately following the Central Michigan-Purdue football game. Black Cultural Center. Friends and Family Day. The event will feature exploration of traditional carnival dance, mask making, music and storytelling. The Bacchanal Steel Band will bring the sounds of the Caribbean to the BCC.

* Sept. 17. 7 p.m. Fowler Hall in Stewart Center. Windy City Carnival. Through a combination of music, conversation and dance, this interactive presentation will explore the cultural expressions of Trinidad and Tobago. Attendees will be exposed to Caribbean history, folklore, steel pan and carnival.

* Sept. 24. 7 p.m. Deans Auditorium in Pfendler Hall. Joseph Ringo, former chair of the National Wildlife Federation and associate research scholar at Yale University, will speak about the environment.

"Historically, those who prioritize environmental issues are perceived to be upper class, white and college educated," Thomas said. "At the same time, however, there is a history of diverse people acting locally on problems that directly impact their families, friends and communities. Integrating these voices into the mainstream has long been a goal of the environmental movement, but it has remained illusive. In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, local issues have become global and Dr. Ringo demonstrates why making these voices heard has become more urgent than ever."

* Oct. 7. 6 p.m. Fowler Hall in Stewart Center. Sonia Manzano, who plays Maria on "Sesame Street," will speak about the impact of the civil rights movement on black Latinos. In this presentation, based on her new book, "The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano," Manzano explores how growing feelings of self worth in both the African-American and Latino communities gave rise to social programs such as Head Start as well as educational TV programs such as "Sesame Street." Manzano's talk is sponsored by the BCC and the Latino Cultural Center.

* Oct. 23. 6:30 p.m. BCC.  Dance Samba School. Samba is a highly energetic Brazilian dance brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans. Participants will learn the dance of celebration and joy.

* Oct. 28. 5 p.m. Loeb Playhouse in Stewart Center. Cummings-Perruci public lecture, with bell hooks, distinguished professor of English at The City College of New York. She is a scholar whose best known work focuses on perceptions of black women in the United States. She has written on a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching and the media. The lecture is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts.

* Oct. 31. 8 p.m. Adelino's Old World Kitchen, 112 N. Third St., Lafayette. Masquerade Ball. The BCC will celebrate the tradition and pageantry of Rio's carnival at the ball. There will be music, dancing and surprise performances. Participants should dress as their favorite carnival character or dress to impress.

* Nov. 4. 12 p.m. Fowler Hall in Stewart Center. Screening of the PBS documentary "Freedom Summer," which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Summer Project in which blacks and whites came together to fight racism. The film explores the history of the campaign for voter registration and education in Mississippi.

* Nov. 4. 7 p.m. Loeb Playhouse in Stewart Center. An evening with Julian Bond. Bond is former chairman of the NAACP and a leader of the American civil rights movement. He helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1960 and organized voting drives and student protests against segregation in public facilities in Georgia. Bond will reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The Office of the Vice Provost sponsors his talk for Diversity and Inclusion.

* Dec. 5. 7 p.m. Loeb Playhouse in Stewart Center. Cultural Arts Festival. The festival is the culmination of the fall arts series and features the BCC Performing Arts Ensembles. Admission is $7 for the general public and $5 for Purdue students.

* Dec. 7. 4 p.m. Purdue Memorial Union East and West Faculty lounges. Kwanzaa celebration. The Kwanzaa celebration will be a university-wide event celebrating the seven principles of Kwanzaa. The program will feature traditional rituals such as the lighting of the kinara, music, the oral tradition of storytelling and refreshments. Kwanzaa focuses on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce and self-improvement.             

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu 

Source: Renee Thomas, 765-494-3091, rathomas@purdue.edu

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