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Last modified: Monday, January 28, 2008

Lectures by 'Little Rock Nine' member and Dyson, music, film and art highlight Black History Month

Jan. 28, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington will celebrate Black History Month with visits to campus by one of the "Little Rock Nine" and Michael Eric Dyson, a step show performance by the group Step Afrika!, and a screening of a documentary about blood diamonds in Africa, "Bling: A Planet Rock," followed by a talk by its director.

Terrence Roberts

Terrence Roberts

The month's activities will begin with a reception Friday (Feb. 1) at a special exhibition, "Bridgwaters Family Photographs," at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. The exhibit, being shown in the center's Bridgwaters Lounge, will feature photographs spanning more than 60 years of an extraordinary African American family with strong ties to IU.

The reception, which will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the center's Grand Hall, is free and open to the public. More information about the exhibit is available online at

Other Black History Month events will include a Women of Color symposium on Feb. 12, the Black History Month Gala on Feb. 23, "Worlds Collide: Spirit, Soul and Body" on Feb. 25 and a closing dance concert and reception on March 1. All events are free and open to the public.

The university also is supporting the city of Bloomington's kick-off program and reception at 6 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 31) at City Hall, 501 N. Morton St. An exhibition, "African American Quilts of Bloomington," will be on display there until March 7.

Terrence Roberts

Terrence Roberts, one of the "Little Rock Nine," will present the Black History Month Keynote Speech on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Black Culture Center.

Roberts will reflect on his experiences as one of the nine students who integrated Central High School in 1957 in Little Rock, Ark. He was a 15-year-old 11th grader when he joined the eight other students to desegregate the school. The children endured the opposition of the Arkansas governor and citizen mobs before President Dwight Eisenhower sent in 1,000 members of the U.S. Army to escort them to school.

Litle Rock Central High School went through its first year of integration, ending with commencement ceremonies in May 1958 for 601 graduating seniors, including Ernest Green, the school's first black graduate. The city's high schools were closed the following school year and, as a result, Roberts completed his senior year at Los Angeles High School in Los Angeles, Calif.

He continued his education at California State University in Los Angeles and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology in 1967. He earned his master's degree in social welfare from the UCLA School of Social Welfare in 1970, and his Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1976.

Roberts today is a faculty member in the psychology program at Antioch University in Los Angeles, has a private psychology practice in Pasadena, Calif., and is chief executive officer of a management-consulting firm dedicated to improving human relations in the workplace. He also was invited to speak at IU last year, but his presentation was canceled due to poor weather conditions.

Step Afrika!

Step Afrika! will perform at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, in Alumni Hall of the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU), 900 E. Seventh St.

It is a powerful collaborative project between young artists from the United States and the South Africa based Soweto Dance Theatre. It highlights the African American fraternity and sorority art form of stepping and its link to traditonal South African gumboot dance.

Founded in 1994, the company has been praised for its efforts to promote an understanding of and appreciation for stepping and the dance tradition's use as an educational tool for young people worldwide. Based in Washington, D.C., the company has been featured on Cable News Network, Black Entertainment Television and public broadcasting programs and in numerous books, documentaries and articles that explore the tradition of stepping.

Step Afrika! serves as a cultural ambassador for the United States, representing the nation at events around the world through special invitations from American embassies. Its signature event, the annual Step Afrika International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, is the fruit of a 10-year collaboration with the Soweto Dance Theatre that unites artists from around the world in dialogue and dance performance

In addition to performing at colleges and universities, Step Afrika! frequently conducts residencies, master classes and in-school performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Washington Performing Arts Society and the Smithsonian Institution.

Raquel Cepeda

Raquel Cepeda

Raquel Cepeda

Raquel Cepeda, an award-winning editor and multi-media journalist and documentary filmmaker, will speak at a screening of her documentary, Bling: A Planet Rock, beginning at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 in room 120 of Woodburn Hall, 1100 E. Seventh St.

Cepeda wrote and directed the 87-minute documentary about American hip-hop culture's obsession with diamonds -- "blinging" -- its social trappings and how this infatuation correlated with the 10-year conflict in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Her film follows three rappers -- Paul Wall, Tego Calderon and Raekwon -- as they travel to the country to meet the survivors, perpetrators and diamond miners in the country.

She co-produced the documentary with article 19, VH1 and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A shorter version of her film, modified for television, was presented on VH1 under the title, "Bling'd: Blood, Diamonds and Hip-Hop" last February. Cepeda also served as a consulting producer for From Mambo to Hip-Hop, directed by Henry Chalfant (also the director of "Style Wars") for PBS.

Currently, she is in production on Blows Us Up!, a wartime concert documentary starring Wall and another rapper, TV Johnny, who will journey into Iraq, Johnny's Homeland This documentary used the medium of hip-hop to engage a new audience in the history of two American wars, a generation and musical genre apart from each other.

She has contributed to MTV News, the Associated Press, USA Weekend, The Village Voice, Source, Vibe, GQ, SPIN, Paper and many others. Her work has been anthologized and featured in the college textbook Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, 6th Ed. Her first book, And It Don't Stop: The Best Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years (Faber & Faber, 2004), chronicles the growth of hip-hop music and journalism.

Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson will present the Union Board lecture, "Race Relations in America," at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19 in Alumni Hall of the IMU. A question and answer session and book signing will follow.

Named by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 most influential black Americans, Dyson is the author of 14 books, including Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster (Basic Books, 2006) and his latest book, Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip Hop (Perseus Books Group, 2007).

Dubbed "the Hip-Hop Intellectual" by critics and fans for his pioneering explorations of rap music in the academy and beyond, Dyson is uniquely situated to probe the most compelling and controversial dimensions of hip-hop culture. Know What I Mean? addresses salient issues within hip hop: the creative expression of degraded youth that has garnered them global exposure; the vexed gender relations that have made rap music a lightning rod for pundits; the commercial explosion that has made an art form a victim of its success; the political elements that have been submerged in the most popular form of hip hop; and the intellectual engagement with some of hip hop's most influential figures.

Dyson is University Professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches Theology, English and African American Studies.

About other IU Black History Month events:

  • "African American Read-in," starting at 10 a.m. on Feb. 4 in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.
  • A screening of IU alumna Regina Kimbell's film "y Nappy Roots: A Journey Through Black Hair-itage at 7 p.m. on Feb. 5 in room 005 of Wylie Hall.
  • A screening of The Sugar Babies: The Plight of the Children of Agricultural Workers in the Sugar Industry of the Dominican Republic at the Monroe County Public Library, 303 E. Kirkwood Ave at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 with a panel discussion following the screening at 4 p.m. about the use of documentary films to facilitate knowledge and change, and on the issues brought to light by The Sugar Babies.
  • Reception and photographic exhibit: "African Americans in Public and Environmental Affairs," beginning at 2 p.m. on Feb. 7 in the atrium and room 420 of the SPEA Building, 1315 E. 10th St.
  • A lecture by Rashad Shabazz, a doctoral student at the University of Califonia at Berkeley, "Carceral Geographies and Black Masculinity: The Prisonization of Black Living Space," at 4 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Bridgwaters Lounge of the Black Culture Center. The event is part of the Critical Issues Lectures Series.
  • The Women of Color Symposium at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 at City Hall Council Chambers.
  • The Office of Mentoring Services and Leadership Development will host a program featuring Eric Thomas, a motivational speaker and student from Michigan State University. His multimedia presentation, "Breaking the Cycle: Moving from Dialogue to Action," will focus on attaining academic, social and professional success. It will begin at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 in room A201 of the Black Culture Center.
  • "A Time to Break Silence: Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Speech and the War in Iraq," at 4 p.m. on Feb 13 in room 105 of Swain Hall West, 727 E. Third St.
  • "Worlds Collide: Spirit, Soul & Body," an evening of spoken word and visual art, on Feb. 25 in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. The event will feature a gallery opening of paintings, photography and sculptures by some of Indiana's finest visual artists and spoken word performances by the Asian American duo Yellow Rage, Tomás Riley and IU Professor Emeritus Dr. James E. Mumford. The program begins at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Ruth N. Halls Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave.
  • A discussion at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the Wells/Metz Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave., with playwright Robert O'Hara, author of An American Maul, which is being presented by the IU Department of Theatre and Drama March 21, 22 and 25-29. More information about the production is available online at
  • Also on Feb. 25, two events at IU's Lilly Library, 1200 E. Seventh St. -- "The Poet & the Emperor: Power and the Arts in Nigeria and Beyond." Novelist Akinwumi Adesokan will do a reading beginning at 5 p.m. in the Slocum Room, followed by a reception and conversation with Adesokan and Harvard Professor Biodun Jeyifo at 7:15 p.m.
  • The Office of Mentoring and Student Leadership Development Black History Month Art Fair, on Feb. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Frangipani Room of the IMU. Art by IU students, faculty and staff and high school students will be on display. High school and IU students will be competing for prizes, which will be announced at a closing reception at 4 p.m. The reception also wll include spoken word, singing and dance performances.
  • The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center will hold its annual Black Knowledge Bowl on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the center's Grand Hall. The Black Knowledge Bowl, which originated in the Department of African American Studies, has been an IU tradition for nearly 30 years. Students compete for prizes, including trophies to the top three teams. This year, audience members also will be able to win prizes while cheering on their favorite team. A reception will follow. The deadline for registering teams is Tuesday (Jan 29). Contact Megan Mitchell at for application or call the NMBCC at 812-855-9271 for further information.
  • The African American Dance Company's 11th annual Dance Workshop on Feb. 29 and March 1 all day at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. There is a cost to participate in the workshop sessions. More information is available online at
  • The African American Dance Company's 11th annual Dance Showcase and closing ceremonies for Black History Month will begin at 6 p.m. on March 1 in the Willkie Auditorium, 150 N. Rose St.

More information about Black History Month events is available online at