seal  Purdue News

July 31, 2003

Black Cultural Center events to focus on civil rights movement

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The civil rights and black arts movement will serve as the central theme of the Black Cultural Center's cultural arts series this fall at Purdue University.

Fred Shuttlesworth

The BCC series will revisit and examine the cultural and political impact of this era when nationalism, civil rights and black aesthetics converged. A speech by the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a veteran national civil rights leader, will launch the series. He will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, in Stewart Center, Room 218. The speech is free and open to the public.

Shuttlesworth is generally regarded with Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy as one of the civil rights movement's "big three." He is a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and also helped the Congress on Racial Equality organize its "freedom rides" campaign.

Renee Thomas, BCC director, said Shuttlesworth's speech promises to be enlightening.

"Shuttlesworth has a lifetime devotion to freedom, justice and humanity," Thomas said. "He is a pillar of the civil rights movement and has put his personal safety and livelihood on the line during a very tough time in the history of our country."

Prior to Shuttlesworth's speech, the BCC will sponsor two events to assist students and their families in becoming more familiar with their programming.

The first event, Boilerfest New Student Orientation 2003, will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in the BCC parking lot, 1100 Third St. The orientation will feature live entertainment by the BCC performing arts ensembles. Various campus leaders and student organization representatives also will be present to answer questions. Refreshments will be served by university officials posing as "celebrity chefs."

The second event, BCC Friends and Family Day, will take place Saturday, Sept. 6, following the Purdue Boilermakers football game. Live entertainment and games, including a civil rights trivia contest, will be featured.

Other events included in the BCC's fall cultural arts series include:

• Friday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. Loeb Playhouse – Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. A modern dance company rooted in the African-American experience.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' historic flight and to celebrate Purdue's contributions to flight, the dance performance will explore the magic and mystery of taking wing. The program also will feature a piece choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder of the Urban Bush Women. The performance is co-sponsored by Purdue Convocations. General admission is $26 and $20 for Purdue students or children ages 5-12.

• Thursday, Oct. 2. 7 p.m. Stewart Center, Room 206 – Col. Charles E. McGee, "The Tuskegee Airmen Experience: Segregation in the Military."

McGee, a decorated Air Force fighter pilot who flew with the Tuskegee Airmen, will share the history of the veteran flyers and the racial segregation African-American soldiers often experienced in the U.S. military. A book signing of "Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee Air Force Fighter Combat Record Holder" by Charlene E. McGee will follow the speech. The event is free and open to the public.

• Oct. 10-14 – Freedom Ain't Free: A Contemporary Freedom Ride," Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala.

The BCC Performing Arts Ensembles will retrace the steps of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights figures during a trip to Alabama, which was the setting for many history-making achievements by African-Americans. Sites will include the Civil Rights Institute, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the Civil Rights Memorial monument and the Rosa Parks Museum.

• Saturday, Oct. 25. 7 p.m. Black Cultural Center – BCC Performing Arts Ensemble Showcase "Civil Rights and the Black Arts Movement."

The Black Voices of Inspiration, New Directional Players, Jahari Dance Troupe and Haraka Writers will collaborate on a work in progress reflecting what they discovered during their research tour in Alabama. The performance is free and open to the public.

• Wednesday, Nov. 12. 7 p.m. Stewart Center, Room 218 – Haki Madhubuti.

An advocate of independent black institutions, Madhubuti (formerly Don L. Lee) is founder, publisher and editor of Third World Press and founder of the Institute of Positive Education/New Concept Development Center. He also serves as director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University and is the author of 19 books. He emerged on the literary scene in 1967 with the widely read "Think Black" and "Black Pride" (1968), and became recognized as one of the critical black poets of the '60s with the 1969 publication of "Don't Cry, Scream." Madhubuti's speech, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored with the Graduate School and the Historically Black Institution Visitation Program.

• Friday, Dec. 5. 7 p.m. Loeb Playhouse – Cultural Arts Festival.

The BCC Performing Arts Ensembles, including the Black Voices of Inspiration, New Directional Players, Jahari Dance Troupe and Haraka Writers, will collaborate in song, dance and drama to create an evening of theater. Admission is $5 for Purdue students and $7 for the general public.

CONTACT: Renee Thomas, (765) 494-3091,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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