UMC Links

University of Utah Celebrates Black Awareness Month

Feb. 7, 2006 – The University of Utah celebrates Black Awareness Month 2006 during February with an exciting mixture of music, art, theatre, poetry and performance combined with candid discussion about America’s economic, social, and political reality in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This year’s celebration highlights the collaboration between the University of Utah African American Studies Program and Utah’s Crescent Jazz Festival which brings together Utah and other regional student musicians with nationally and internationally renowned jazz artists in workshops and public performances. In addition, the celebration will provide a venue for discussion, discourse and debate on current socio-economic and political issues in the aftermath of Katrina, the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, that devastated New Orleans and revealed a large underclass population.

Wilfred Samuels, Director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Utah states, “Black Awareness Month 2006 embodies our very mission which is to celebrate all aspects of African American history and culture and to provide a venue for discussing current socio-economic and political issues. Its collaboration with the Crescent Jazz Festival, which involves music students in Utah–from middle school to the major universities–takes our outreach efforts to the highest level.”

Black Awareness Month will feature: Dr. Jerry Ward, Distinguished Scholar and Professor of English and African World Studies at Dillard University, a Historical Black College and University that was nearly destroyed by Katrina. Ward will speak on “Richard Wright’s ‘Down By the Riverside’: A Predictive Response To Hurricane Katrina and Other Disasters.”

Kalamu ya Salaam, internationally renowned for his performance poetry, and founder of Runagate Multimedia, which promotes New Orleans and African Heritage Cultures worldwide, will read-perform from his works. Three Katrina evacuees Jacquelyn Herbert, Rhonda Flot and Ernest Timmons will join ya Salaam in a panel discussion on “Katrina: Metaphor of the African American Experience.”

Three guest scholars-performers round out the Black Awareness Month 2006 program. Dr. Theodore McDaniel, Chair of Jazz Music at Ohio State University, will deliver a keynote on “Jazz: An American Masterpiece.” Award-winning short fiction writer, William Hank Lewis (Colgate University), author of In the Arms of Our Elders and I Got Somebody in Stanton, will be joined by N. Fareed Mahluli (Indiana University), Director of Indiana University’s Soul Revue, in “Rossonian Days,” a reading-jazz performance. Dr. Richard Scharine, Emeriti, is directing “A Mighty Gents,” a play by Richard Wesley.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah will mount two exhibits in conjunction with the celebration: “Jazz Legends: Photographs by Herman Leonard” and “Visual Forms of the Kuba”; both exhibits are part of UMFA’s permanent collection. Paul Gotay, Esquire, will once again mount an exhibit from his private collection on African primitive art and give a lecture: “A Bridge Between Past and Present: How African Primitive Art Enhances the Quality of Today’s Life.” In addition the Soweto Gospel Choir will perform at Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus.

For information about all Black Awareness Month events please visit (Note to the media: Interviews and photo opportunities on request. Call Wilfred Samuels at 581-3288.)