Stone Center to Look Back at Seminal Events of 1960s

The global significance of 1968 and 1969 will be a topic of reflection during the 2008-09 academic year at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

Fall programs will begin Sept. 11 with “The Time is Nigh: Organize, Mobilize, Radicalize,” a panel discussion with 1968 Olympian Tommie Smith. Smith is one of the Olympic athletes who participated in the black-gloved fist gesture at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City – a visible challenge to racism and injustice happening in the U.S and the world at the time. He will discuss this historic Olympic moment and its impact in the U.S. and abroad at the height of the black power movement.

On Sept. 18, the center’s biannual Diaspora Festival of Black and Independent Film will open with the screening of three films. The festival theme, “Post-Racial Nation? Or Permanence of a Racial State,” highlights contemporary and historical assumptions, beliefs and traditions regarding race, skin color and cultural identity.

Founded in 1988, the center is dedicated to broadening the range of intellectual discourse about African diaspora cultures and pursuing challenging examinations of contemporary issues. Events will be in the center, at 150 South Road west of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, and free to the public. Spanish translation is available upon request. Visit the center’s Web site for parking information or call 962-9001.

The center invites members of the public to post their most vivid memories of 1968 at, or to send them by e-mail to the center,, for posting. Pictures, videos and comments all are welcome.

Here is the fall schedule for the year of reflection:

Sept. 11, 7 p.m.: “The Time is Nigh: Organize, Mobilize, Radicalize,” the panel discussion with Tommie Smith.

Sept. 16, 7 p.m.: Screening of Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed. Director and producer Shola Lynch will introduce and lead a discussion of this documentary film that chronicles Chisholm’s 1972 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and her dogged refusal to accept the status quo.

Sept. 18, 7 p.m.: “Post Racial Nation? Or Permanence of a Racial State.” This program to open the fall semester Diaspora Festival of Black and Independent Film will feature the screening of three short films. All explore interactions between Asian-Americans and African-Americans.

  • Akira’s Hip-Hop Shop (2007). As the relationship between a Japanese hip-hop DJ and a black culinary student blossoms, the pair must deal with racial prejudice and, for Akira, mounting pressure from his family to return to Japan.
  • Race (2007). Two colleagues, an African-American man and Asian-American woman, are suddenly at odds when they learn one of them will be promoted to senior vice president based on an important presentation they each will give.
  • Slowly This (1995). Documents a conversation about race between two male friends, one Japanese-American and the other African-American.

Fred Ho, a jazz musician, writer and social activist whose music often fuses Asian and African influences, will facilitate a discussion after the screenings.

Sept. 25, 3:30 p.m.: E. Patrick Johnson ’89 will discuss and read from his latest book, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, a collection of stories from black gay men who were born and raised and continue to live in the southern U.S. and whose life stories mostly have gone untold. Johnson is director of graduate studies and professor in the performance studies department and professor of African-American studies at Northwestern University.

Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m.: “Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales.” Johnson will perform a staged reading based on the stories of men he interviewed for his book. The program will start with a reception. The performance contains adult language.

Oct. 9, 7 p.m.: “Black Dreams/Silver Screens: Black Film Posters 1920-1995,” an exhibit and lecture in the center’s Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum. The exhibit, on display through Dec. 5, will feature original posters, rare vintage lobby cards and hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind materials from the earliest days of black filmmaking, and from classic films with all-black casts. Henry T. Sampson, author of Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films, will speak at the opening. The posters highlight the work of the first black matinee idols, including Herb Jeffries, Lena Horne, and Bill Pickett. Aside from their use as promotional material, the posters played an important socio-cultural role for black communities across the U.S. as they most often showed black actors as legitimate screen stars and cultural icons. Items in the exhibit are on loan from the collection of siblings Alden Kimbrough and Mary Kimbrough of Los Angeles, who will attend the opening reception.

Oct. 22, 7 p.m.: Diaspora Festival of Black and Independent Film. The festival will continue with the screening of two short films that explore skin lightening in South Asian and Mexican cultures:

  • The Unbearable Whiteness of Being, a documentary, follows sibling entrepreneurs to the United Kingdom’s largest South Asian lifestyle trade show to find a distributor for NUR 76, a skin lightening cream.
  • White Like the Moon tells of a Mexican-American girl who struggles for identity as her overbearing mother forces her to bleach her skin white to fit into Anglo society in 1950s Texas.

Oct. 30, 7 p.m.: The 16th annual Sonja Haynes Stone Memorial Lecture by Judy Richardson. Richardson, a former staff member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, was a senior associate producer and researcher for Eyes on the Prize, a PBS television series documenting the civil rights movement. She will discuss her new documentary project, Veil of Secrecy: The Orangeburg Massacre, soon to be aired on PBS.

Nov. 11, 7 p.m.: African Diaspora Lecture by Abdul Alkalimat. A professor in the African-American studies and research program and Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Alkalimat will address digital inequality and African-American intellectual history.

Nov. 20, 7 p.m.: The Order of Myths. This 2008 documentary provides insight into America’s oldest and still racially segregated Mardi Gras celebration, in Mobile, Ala.

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