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Nathan Click
Union Board

Audrey T. McCluskey
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Charles E. Sykes
African American Arts Institute

Last modified: Monday, February 2, 2009

Black History Month's diverse calendar at IU to include Feb. 23 lecture by Cornel West

Feb. 2, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington will celebrate Black History Month with a diverse calendar of events, including a Feb. 23 lecture by one of America's most provocative intellectuals, Cornel West. Union Board is presenting West's lecture at 7 p.m. in the IU Auditorium, 1211 E. 7th St. A book signing will follow his lecture in the auditorium lobby.

Other events on the Bloomington campus will include activities by IU's African American Arts Institute and the Black Knowledge Bowl at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Events are free unless otherwise noted.

The university also is encouraging people to participate in many events being presented by the city of Bloomington, including a Black History Fair, 5:30 p.m., Thursday (Feb. 5), and a discussion, "The State of the Black Community in Bloomington and Beyond," 6 p.m., Tuesday (Feb. 10). Both events will take place at City Hall, 401 N. Morton St. For a complete list of community Black History Month activities, log on to

West, the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion at Princeton, is the author of a new book, Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom (Hay House, 2008). The book offers West's views in the form of a collection of quotations, speech excerpts and letters, along with a spoken word CD. His 2007 CD, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations featured collaborations with best-selling artists Prince, Jill Scott and Andre 3000, and was Billboard's #1 Spoken Word album.

He also is author of Race Matters, which received much media attention when it was released in 1993, as well as The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century with Henry Louis Gates Jr. His writings and lectures weave together the American traditions of the Baptist church, transcendentalism, socialism and pragmatism.

As a boy growing up in Sacramento, Calif., West was greatly impressed by the Baptist church. He had been deeply touched by the stories of parishioners who, only two generations from slavery, told stories of blacks maintaining their religious faith during the most trying of times. He equally was attracted to the commitment of the Black Panthers, and it was from them that he began to understand the importance of community-based political action.

West earned two bachelor's degrees from Harvard in three years, magna cum laude. After earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he became a professor of religion and director of the Afro-American Studies program there. West also has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris.

Along with Union Board, West's lecture is being sponsored by the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and the IU Department of Religious Studies.

Other observances at IU will include:

  • A Black History Month photo exhibit will be on display Feb. 2-27 in the lobby of the undergraduate offices, room 240, of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, 1315 E. 10th St. For more information, contact Kathy Haney at
  • The IU African American Arts Institute will present a free concert of traditional and contemporary gospel music at 5 p.m. on Feb. 22, in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. The African American Choral Ensemble's repertoire resonates with the complexities of the black American experience. Three smaller contemporary gospel groups comprised of members from the larger ensemble -- SoulACE, Sojourner and God's Progress -- also will perform.
  • The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center will host its annual Black Knowledge Bowl at 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 in its Grand Hall. Teams of undergraduate contestants will be questioned about aspects of African American life, culture and history. The winning team will receive $500; the second place team, $300; and third place team, $200. All participants will receive a certificate for participating. There is no fee to compete. Student teams interested in participating can pick up the registration forms in the center's office in room A226. Forms must be submitted by noon on Feb. 13. A reception will follow in the center's Bridgwaters Lounge. For more information, send an e-mail to
  • A showcase of African American dance and a closing reception for Black History Month will begin at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Willkie Auditorium, 150 N. Rose Ave. The showcase culminates a two-day dance workshop held Feb. 27-28 for the 12th year by IU's African American Arts Institute, African American Dance Company and Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies. While there is a registration fee to participate in the workshop, there is no charge for the dance workshop. For more information about the dance workshop, visit the AAAI web site at For more information about the reception, contact Roberta Radovich at