Friday, March 23, 2007

Couple of campus events

Instruction has started to slow down for the spring semester it seems. This allows me then to gradually catch my breath. Here are a couple of campus events I attended recently, but that, due to a tight teaching schedule, I have not been able to post until now.

On Monday, February 5th, 2007, I participated in our campus's read-in event as part of the 18th National African American Read-In. It was one of the events for Black History Month that UHD participated in. Our campus event was sponsored by UHD's Black Student Alliance, the Department of English, and the Cultural Enrichment Center. It was led by Dr. Vida Robertson. The event lasted from 1:00p to 5:00p. I attended between teaching classes. I arrived a little after 1:00p, and there were about 23 people there already. A good number were students that the professor sent them there for extra credit, but over time, the crowd would change as people would leave and others would come in. Some like me left and then came back. The idea of a read-in is to make literacy a part of the community. In our case, it was a way for people to come together and share their favorite pieces of literature. Readers performed poetry, prose, nonfiction, song lyrics, etc. Authors featured included Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, Desmond Tutu and Tupac Shakur. We went all over the place. As for me, when I finally got a little bravery to share something, I shared Dr. King's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech. Like Dr. King, "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits." I went to the read-in to get my food for the mind and soul, and I came out satisfied for the moment. That, and I wanted to hear what others would read and perform. And as I sat there, I thought of old days in graduate school, when in a previous life, Dr. Maude Jennings taught me in an African-American Literature class to appreciate the beauty, passion, and power of what I was listening to. Wherever you are, Dr. Jennings, thank you for showing me the path to new books and ideas. It was professors like you who inspired me to continue my studies in ethnic literatures.

For readers interested, I used the following text for my reading:

Carson, Clayborne, and Kris Shepard, eds., A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Time Warner, 2001.

The speech I used starts on page 105.

On Wednesday, February 21, 2007, I attended a lecture by Professor Larry Sabato. Professor Sabato is a political analyst and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. For most of our students, he may better known as the coauthor of their textbook American Government: Continuity and Change. Professor Sabato spoke about political analysis and predictions. He also gave an overview of American politics that was interesting, engaging, and with some humor along the way. He discussed the concept of the 6 year itch, and how President Bush is having his now. Sabato then summarized other instances of this political cycle. He suggested that midterm elections are not national. What you get instead is a picture of which states are competitive in their own elections. He argues that in spite of low standards (i.e., the interest in Anna Nicole Smith's death), Americans still want change in their government. This is why we get "tidal" elections; however, people often fail to look at state legislatures. He also says there is a positive light on the gridlock resulting from the 2006 midterm election: the people won't get hurt (much) because nothing will get done. So, this means there will be very little government (and this may be a good thing indeed). Other things to worry about, according to Professor Sabato: science teaching, language teaching, competition from places like China and India. These are all issues to consider other than the war.

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