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African American and African Diaspora Studies Graduate Society

Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2008

Poet Sonia Sanchez to speak at Herman C. Hudson Symposium on Saturday

March 21, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Influential poet and activist Sonia Sanchez will be the keynote speaker at the Fifth Annual Herman C. Hudson Symposium Saturday (March 22) at Indiana University Bloomington. The theme for the event is "Lifting the Veil: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Identity and Responsibility in Global Societies."

Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez

Conference check-in will begin at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., with lunch beginning at 11 a.m. in the building's Grand Hall. Valerie Grim, chair of IU's Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, will provide opening remarks at 11:20 a.m., followed by Sanchez' keynote address. The musical group Color Line also will perform. Sanchez will sign books from 12:40 to 1:20 p.m.

Following the lunch, there will be one undergraduate and three graduate panels that will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Bridgwaters Lounge and room A201. Matthew Guterl, director of the IU American Studies Program, will provide closing remarks at 5 p.m.

Born Wilsonia Driver in Birmingham, Ala., in 1934, Sanchez is a poet, playwright and educator noted for her black activism. Her mother died when she was an infant and she moved with her father and siblings to Harlem, New York City, at age 9. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Hunter College in 1955 and briefly studied writing at New York University. She married and divorced Albert Sanchez.

In the 1960s, Sanchez was introduced to the political activism of the times and published poetry in such journals as The Liberator, the Journal of Black Poetry, Black Dialogue and Negro Digest. Her first book, Homecoming (1969), contained denunciation of "white America" and "white violence" and she continued to write about what she called the "neoslavery" of blacks. She also wrote about sexism, child abuse and generational and class conflicts.

She has joined other activists in promoting black studies in schools, working for the rights of African countries, and in sponsoring various other causes, such as that of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. She has taught at several universities and ultimately became a resident poet and member of the English faculty at Temple University in 1975. Her more recent works include homegirls & handgrenades, winner of an American Book Award, and Under a Soprano Sky.

This year's Herman C. Hudson Symposium is sponsored by the IU Student Association, the departments of African American and African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, Comparative Literature, English and History, IU Libraries, the Office of the Provost, Office of Academic Support & Diversity, POAET, RPS and Theatre & Drama.