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Oyibo Afoaku
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

George Vlahakis
Media Relations

Eric Eisenberg
Union Board

Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2006

James Earl Jones and Africana Festival highlight IUB's Black History Month celebration

Jan. 31, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A lecture by acclaimed actor James Earl Jones, a day-long Africana festival and a lecture on Americans' views about race and racism will highlight the celebration of Black History Month at Indiana University Bloomington. Most events are free and open to the public.

The month's activities kick off Thursday (Feb. 2) with the Fourth Annual Sound the Drum and Family Fest, 7-9 p.m., in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. At this event, which references the drum as a symbol of unity and solidarity, audience members will be invited to make personal and collective commitments to community values within the context of the IU campus and the broader community.

The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center collaborates with student groups, the African American Arts Institute and others to put on this program, which will be free to the public.

James Earl Jones

Union Board will present a lecture, 7 p.m., Feb. 21, at the IU Auditorium by James Earl Jones, an award-winning stage and screen actor who may be best known to younger audiences as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. His 1961 stage performance in the American premiere of Jean Genet's absurdist drama, The Blacks, introduced Jones as part of a new generation of outstanding African American actors, which included Roscoe Lee Brown, Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou.

Over the years Jones has received numerous Obie and Tony awards for his stage performances. He is well known for his performance in The Great White Hope, playing a character based on Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion. His performance in the play on Broadway won him his first Tony Award, and he received an Oscar nomination for his performance in the 1970 film version. His performance in August Wilson's Fences also earned him a Tony Award.

Jones made his big screen debut in Dr. Strangelove in 1963 and has worked in more than 50 films, including Field of Dreams, Coming to America and Cry, The Beloved Country. He played Admiral Greer in the highly popular series of films based on the Tom Clancy novels: The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger. He was the voice of King Mufasa in the animated classic The Lion King. He regularly appears on television, and one of his most memorable appearances was as the writer Alex Haley in Roots II. In 1991 he won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in the title role of Gabriel's Fire. He also is heard by millions around the world every day intoning the words, "This is... CNN."

Jones will give an hour-long lecture, followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session and then a signing of his autobiography, Voices and Silences. Event co-sponsors include the Office of Chancellor, Institutional Development and Student Affairs, National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Office of Strategic Hiring and Support, the Office of Diversity Education and the Commission on Multicultural Understanding.

Beverly I. Moran

Another lecture, presented by the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, will be given Feb. 16 by Beverly I. Moran, professor of law and sociology at Vanderbilt University. Moran previously taught at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she directed the Center on Law and Africa, and the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Her recent scholarship includes a path-breaking analysis of the disparate impact of the federal tax code on blacks and an innovative new text on the taxation of charities and other exempt organizations.

Moran and other faculty at Vanderbilt University have joined colleagues at Fisk University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University to form a research circle on "Race and Wealth Disparity in 21st Century America." The program being led by Moran will result in a set of edited teaching materials on how various disciplines look at race and wealth disparity in the United States.

Moran will speak at 4:30 p.m. at Alumni Hall, located in the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St., on the topic, "Changes in the View of Race in America in the Last 60 years." The following day, from 11 a.m. to noon, she will meet with students in the Bridgwaters Lounge of the Black Culture Center. Sponsors are the Black Law Student Association, the Office of Diversity Education, the Department of Sociology, the IU School of Law-Bloomington and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Africana Festival

Closing out the month's activities on Feb. 23 will be the annual celebration of art, music and dancing -- the Africana Festival. Africana Festival is an inclusive program aimed at celebrating the cultural heritage of the people of African descent in Bloomington and Southern Indiana. The first part of the two-part program includes a student panel, a lecture by a community leader, a drumming workshop, multicultural and information vendors, and other activities. The second part features a soul food dinner, entertainment and a fashion show.

Oyibo Afoaku, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, said the term "Africana" refers to the rich diversity of all people of African descent, Africans on the continent and Africans around the world. "The Africana Festival therefore is an inclusive program. It is even more relevant today because of ongoing efforts to improve race relations in our community through programs that are inclusive, informative and positive," she said.

Most festival events will take place in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 and 8 p.m.

There is an admission charge for the second part of the festival featuring a soul food dinner, entertainment and a fashion show. Tickets for a soul food buffet dinner that evening in Alumni Hall of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St., are $12.75 for adults and $5 for students, children and seniors. Dinner tickets must be purchased by 5 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. For more information, call 812-855-9271.

Black Knowledge Bowl

Student groups will work in teams to compete for prizes in the Black Knowledge Bowl, Feb. 9, 7:30 to 10 p.m., in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Topics on which questions are asked include history, science, music, sports, philosophy, politics, literature, education and business.