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University to Present Black Awareness Month

February 14, 2003 — Sponsored by the University of Utah’s African American Studies Program, the activities planned on and off campus for Black Awareness Month will focus on the hip-hop generation and issues related to today’s African American youth. The events, which are free and open to the public, will center on the theme “From Cultural to Political Movement: A Challenge for African American Youth in the 21st Century.”

“As the flagship campus in the state, the University has to play a major role in calling attention to the University and greater community issues related to diversity and multiculturalism,” notes Wilfred Samuels, director of African American Studies and professor of English at the U. “In this community, which is generally thought to be homogeneous, it’s very important that the other cultures present here historically, be acknowledged, celebrated and studied.”

Samuels, who chairs the committee that planned this year’s events at the U, says a variety of speakers will bring differing perspectives on the hip hop culture and will provide opportunities to dialogue with the audience.

The art of Synthia Saint James, an internationally recognized artist and the designer of the Kwanza stamp for the U.S. Postal Service, will be on exhibit Feb. 7-28 at the Distinctive African American Art Galley, located at 357 S. 200 E., second floor, from 1-5:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment. For more information, call 801-363-0745.

Paula Smith, assistant professor in the U’s Department of Family and Consumer Studies, and William Smith, an assistant professor of Education, Culture & Society, will present “Rearing the African American Child,” on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at noon, in the Olpin Union Theatre.

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, at noon, Sharon Elizabeth Rush, Irvin Professor of Law at the University of Florida, will present “Emotional Segregation: The Education Challenge of the 21st Century,” in the Olpin Union Theatre.

Charles Holt, Broadway actor who portrayed 20 characters in Richard Wright’s “Black Boy,” will deliver a keynote address, “Free Within Ourselves, U of U Scholars United High School Conference,” at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, in the Olpin Union Ballroom. At noon that day, in the Olpin Union Food Court, Sister Maryam & Doc Miller’s Jazz Ensemble will present a jazz musical review. That evening, at 6 p.m., novelist and poet Sapphire, author of American Dreams, Push and Black Wings & Blind Angels, will present a reading from her works at Distinctive African American Art Gallery, 357 S. 200 E., second floor.

On Friday, Feb. 21, at noon, in the Olpin Union Theatre, Bakari Kitwana, will present keynote address “Hip Hop: The Transition from a Cultural to a Political Movement.” Kitwana is the author of Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks & the Crisis in African American Culture. That evening, at 7 p.m., Distinctive African American Art, 357 S. 200 E., second floor, will hold its grand opening with a reception to honor Synthia Saint James.

On Saturday, Feb. 22, at noon, Synthia Saint James will be signing and reading from her children’s books at the Calvary Baptist Church, located at 1090 S. State Street. For more information on this event, call 801-355-1025. That evening there will be a closing reception, featuring local musicians Benjamin Cabey and Fusion, from 6 until 9 p.m., at the Oasis Cafe, located at 151 S. 500 E.

Kenneth Hopkins, counselor and high school teacher in the Salt Lake City School District, will present “You Grew Up Where . . . In Salt Lake City?” on Sunday, Feb. 24, at noon, in room 324 of the Olpin Union Building.

For more information on Black Awareness Month activities at the U, call the Ethnic Studies Program at the University at 801-585-5206 or go to