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Series Explores the African-American Experience
(Released: 09/11/01)

By Alison Thompson, Office of University Communications

[Human Rights Semester Website]

STORRS, Conn. -- What does it mean to be black in America? The Institute for African American Studies will explore that volatile question in a series of lectures and discussions beginning later this month.

The series, "Race, Human Rights, and the African American Experience," is part of the Human Rights Semester taking place on all of the University of Connecticut's campuses this fall. The semester's activities are intended to underscore the importance of human rights and to inform and engage members of the University community and interested members of the public about this critical topic.

"Through our series of scheduled events, the institute hopes to begin a dialogue that addresses the important issues of race relations and the dimensions of a multicultural society at the University of Connecticut," says Robert Stephens, interim director of the Institute for African American Studies. "The events will also provide an informed forum for examining the legacy of segregation, economic elitism, and exclusion of various racial and ethnic groups that have gone largely unexamined or discussed, and give students the opportunity to learn from diverse perspectives in a diverse setting."

The series will begin on Monday, Sept. 17, with a panel discussion on Images of Blacks in the Media. Participants are Thirman Milner, the first African-American mayor of Hartford; Clayvon Harris, a television writer for shows such as For Your Love, Living Single and Star Trek: Voyager; Vivian B. Martin, a columnist for the Hartford Courant and a faculty member at Central Connecticut State University; Jerry Dunklee, the chairman of the journalism department at Southern Connecticut State University; Robin Barnes, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law; and Noel Cazenave, an associate professor of sociology at UConn. Ann-Marie Adams, a reporter for the Hartford Courant, will make opening and closing remarks, and Stephens will moderate. The discussion will take place at 6 p.m. in the Starr Reading Room at the University of Connecticut School of Law at 55 Elizabeth Street in Hartford.

On Thursday, Sept. 27, Joseph Inikori will speak about the economic effects of slavery. A professor of history at the University of Rochester, Inikori has written several books on the African slave trade. His talk will begin at 10:45 a.m. in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center's Konover Auditorium.

The series continues on Thursday, Oct. 4, when Lani Guinier gives the talk "Who's Qualified?" at 2 p.m. in the Rome Commons Ballroom. Guinier, a professor at Harvard Law School, gained notoriety in 1993 when President Bill Clinton nominated her for assistant attorney general for civil rights. He withdrew the nomination after critics assailed Guinier and labeled her a "quota queen."

On Monday, Oct. 15, Carlton Molette, a professor of dramatic arts, will lead a reading of the play "Living in the Wind." Written by Michael Bradford, a dramatic arts assistant professor-in-residence at UConn's Avery Point campus, the play tells the story of an African-American couple seeking to overcome the scars of slavery after Emancipation. The reading will take place at 6 p.m. in Von der Mehden Recital Hall.

The series will conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 6, with lectures by Joseph R. Feagin and Randall Robinson. Feagin, a professor of sociology at the University of Florida, is the author of more than 40 books on race in America. They include Living with Racism: The Black Middle-Class Experience; White Racism: The Basics; and The Agony of Education: Black Students at White Colleges and Universities. Feagin's lecture, "Reparations for African Americans: Obvious and Necessary," will begin at 10:45 a.m. in Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Robinson, author of the book The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks and president of TransAfrica and the TransAfrica Forum, will speak at 2 p.m in the Rome Commons Ballroom. Robinson is one of the country's most outspoken and well known advocates of reparations for African Americans.

The series is being co-sponsored by the African-American Cultural Center, the School of Business Administration, the Neag School of Education, the School of Fine Arts, the School of Law, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Women's Center, the Student Union Board of Governors, and the New England chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

All of the events are free and open to the public and the media.

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