'The Black Freedom Struggle: Historical Narratives, Contemporary Echoes' theme of BCC's Fall Cultural Arts Series

August 24, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the civil rights movement and their connection to current events will be the theme of the Fall Cultural Arts Series at the Purdue University Black Cultural Center.

"The Black Freedom Struggle: Historical Narratives, Contemporary Echoes" will feature a U.S. Olympian, Emmy Award-winning actor, a World Trust film series, speakers, music and other performances.

"We are excited about the series, which will focus on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act and the civil rights movement, but we also want to focus on what is happening now and raising consciousness about contemporary issues," said Renee Thomas, BCC director. "The civil rights movement instilled in African Americans a new spirit of self-determination and pride, a new social consciousness and a commitment to political activism."

The three-part film series, "Unearthing Our Roots of Racism," presented by the Indiana Voices of Women and the BCC, begins at 6 p.m. Sept. 21, with "Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity," at Krannert Auditorium.

The series will include a facilitator-training workshop to support an ongoing dialogue in the Greater Lafayette community, Thomas said.

"The work of deconstructing racism in our community requires efforts beyond a one-time series," she said. "To ensure resources are available to continue the dialogue on racial inequity, the three films will be available to community groups through the Purdue Black Cultural Center Library, and a cohort of local facilitators will be trained by Ericka Huggins, of World Trust. They will then be able to facilitate discussions with groups viewing the films."

Twenty-five individuals from the community will be invited to receive the training, which will take place Sept. 22 at the BCC.

The film series also includes "Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible" at 6 p.m. on Oct. 20 at MatchBOX Coworking Studio in downtown Lafayette. "Light in the Shadows: Staying at the Table When the Conversation about Race Gets Hard" will be at 6 p.m. on Nov. 18 at the BCC.

Another highlight of the fall series will be "The Movement: 50 Years of Love and Struggle," a one-man multimedia performance featuring Ron Jones, who won a New England Emmy Award in 2002. His performance will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 in Fowler Hall.

"This is a powerful production that takes us on a chronological journey from the signing of the Voting Rights Act to the Trayvon Martin shooting," Thomas said. "Jones plays a range of characters and it is intended to be a call to action for everyone to stay engaged. A 'talk back' with the audience will be after the performance so students can talk to him. He teases out the conversation."

Thomas said an art exhibition featuring Yvette Quarles Chatman also will involve the Benton Central School Corporation. The exhibition, which begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in the BCC and runs through Dec. 5, is called "They Dared." It is based on the book by the same name by Chatman.

"The exhibition features contemporary African Americans who dared to hope, dream and change the story of our nation's complicated history," Thomas said. "Through a partnership, Ms. Chatman will work with Benton Community schools' students to inspire them so they can work to bring hope and change."

Students in the BCC's Performing Arts Ensembles will travel to Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, Oct. 9-13 on a research tour.

"Selma will be a powerful experience. Students will have the opportunity to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the civil rights march in 1965, " Thomas said. "They also will get to visit the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute and the Slavery and Civil War Museum. "They will visit Tuskegee University and participate in a master class instructed by Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choral director Wayne Barr. A highlight of the tour will be a panel discussion with civil rights foot solders – individuals who, despite playing significant, powerful and historical roles in the movement, remain unknown to most people."

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

* Aug. 27. 4-6 p.m. Black Cultural Center, 1100 Third St. Annual Boilerfest New Student Orientation. The program introduces new students to the BCC, various student organizations and support services. The event will begin the celebration of the all theme and feature a live DJ, performances by BCC ensembles and Funk Out Band.

* Sept. 16. 5:30 p.m. Krannert Auditorium. Frank X. Walker, 2014 Kentucky Poet Laureate and a former BCC assistant director, will read and sign his book, "Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers." Walker is associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Kentucky and founding editor of "Pluck! The new Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture." He is the author of six collections of poetry and winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry.

* Sept. 19. 12-3 p.m. BCC. BCC Friends and Family Day featuring artist and author Yvette Quarles Chatman. The community is invited to visit the BCC prior to the Virginia Tech-Purdue football game at 3:30.

* Oct. 23-24. 7 p.m. both nights. BCC. Performing Arts Ensemble Showcase. BCC ensembles will collaborate to present a performance of actions, words, movement and music.

* Oct. 29. 7 p.m. Fowler Hall. John Carlos. Former track and field athlete and professional football player John Carlos was the bronze-medal winner in the 200-meter race at the 1968 Summer Olympics, and his black power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith caused political controversy. He went on to tie the world record in the 100-meter dash and beat the 200-meter world record. After his track career, he played briefly in the National Football and Canadian Football leagues.

* Nov. 6-8. Homecoming. BCC and the Purdue Black Alumni Organization will host several events to meet, socialize and share networking with fellow alumni and current students.

* Nov. 11. 7 p.m. Forney Hall, Room G140. "Grey's, Scandal, Murder, Oh My! Gender and Leadership in the Work of Shonda Rhimes." Producer and writer Shonda Rhimes has influenced television viewing with her hit shows "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away with Murder." Meaningful dialogue about gender and leadership is the goal of this program.

"By creating an amalgam of pop culture and leadership topics, students will be able to draw connections between leadership practices and things that resonate with them from the works of Shonda Rhimes," Thomas said.

* Dec. 4. 7 p.m. Loeb Playhouse. Cultural Arts Festival. "The Black Freedom Struggle: Historical Narratives, Contemporary Echoes." 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. 

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

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

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