January 27, 2012


By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University's celebration of Black History Month, "Break the 28," continues throughout February with several events, including the Griot Institute series, "Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: An American Origin Story," which will feature lectures, a film and a soundscape.

Most events in the celebration, which is co-sponsored by the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, are open to the public without charge.

"These events are part of a larger semester-long series reflecting on the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson," said Carmen Gillespie, director of the Griot Institute, professor of English and University Arts Coordinator at Bucknell.

The February events begin Wednesday, Feb. 1, with the talk, "Hemings, Callendar and Inter-racial Relationships in 18th-century Virginia," by Joshua Rothman at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center.

Rothman directs the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama, where he is also an associate professor of history and African American studies specializing in 19th-century America and the history of race and slavery. The author of Notorious in the Neighborhood: Sex and Families across the Color Line in Virginia, 1787-1861 (2003) and Reforming America, 1815-1860 (2010), he is completing a book about the expansion of southwestern slavery and the cotton kingdom in the Age of Jackson.

Other events include:

  • Saturday, Feb. 11: The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will perform "Body Against Body" at 8 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $25.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 15: folksinger/songwriter Vance Gilbert will perform in concert at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg at 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 16: Rashad Shabazz will give the talk, "Geographies of Black Masculinities," at 4:30 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center. Shabazz is an assistant professor of geography at the University of Vermont.
  • Thursday, Feb. 16: the PBS Frontline film, "Jefferson's Blood," will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center.
  • Monday, Feb. 20: a food activism workshop with Dara Cooper, senior project manager with FreshMoves mobile produce market, and artist Fereshteh Toosi, creator of the Garlic & Greens soul-food oral history archive, at noon in Room 217 of the Elaine Langone Center.
  • Monday, Feb. 20: African-American Foodways panel discussion, 5:30 p.m., Center Room, Elaine Langone Center.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21: "To Be Heard," a documentary film about poetry slams, will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Campus Theatre. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with William Evans; Jamaal May, Stadler Fellow; and Bucknell junior Lakiyra "Oompa" Williams, sponsored by the Stadler Center for Poetry.
  • Thursday, Feb. 23: Monika Gosin will give a talk at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center as part of the Center for the Study of Race Ethnicity and Gender/Social Sciences Colloquium Series, "Shades of Black and Brown." Gosin is a professor of sociology at William & Mary.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 29: Conceptual artists Mendi and Keith Obadike will share their original sound installation, "American Cypher: Stereo Helix for Sally Hemings," in the Samek Art Gallery. The Obadikes will give a talk and premiere a video associated with their installation beginning at 7 p.m. [note change in time] Created for the Bucknell campus, the project uses the genetic code of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson as a musical score input into custom software to generate an original evolving soundscape. The soundscape will broadcast in the downhill stairwell of the Elaine Langone Center from February through the end of the semester.

"The 'Break the 28' theme is a collaboration between the Griot Institute for Africana Studies and the Office of Multicultural Student Services," said Vincent Stephens, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services at Bucknell.

"The phrase, coined by Bucknell international relations professor Hilbourne Watson, refers to a desire to envision African-American history as a vital part of American experience beyond the 28 days of February usually celebrated as Black History Month."

Contact: Division of Communications
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