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UW-Eau Claire Announces Activities
to Honor Black History Month

RELEASED: Jan. 29, 2008

EAU CLAIRE The Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host a reception in celebration of Black History Month from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Tamarack Room of Davies Center.

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich will open the reception with a welcome at 12:15 p.m.

Dr. Tess Onwueme
Dr. Tess Onwueme

The reception will feature the works of Dr. Tess Onwueme, the Nigerian-born playwright, novelist, scholar and poet who is Distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity and professor of English at UW-Eau Claire. She will read from some of her works and present video excerpts, play bills and stories from her many plays.

Onwueme rose to prominence writing plays with themes of social justice. She has said she uses the theater as a medium to showcase the views of historically silenced African women and shed more light on African life. She won drama prizes from the Association of Nigerian Authors in 1985, 1995, 2001 and 2003; was awarded major grants from The Ford Foundation in 2000 and 2001; and has won numerous other awards and honors. Her work has been the subject of a number of scholarly articles and critical studies, including the book "Gender and Identity in the Works of Osonye Tess Onwueme" by Iniobong Uko. Northwestern University in Chicago has the entire collection of her works.

For more on Onwueme, see her Web site.

Samples of Nigerian and African-American foods will be offered during the reception, which is free and open to the public.

Additional Black History Month activities include:

  • Jabali Afrika will give a free performance in Schofield Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6. Afrika, who is from East Africa's Kenya, will present original compositions and traditional African melodies in a colorful fusion of drums, vocal harmonies, dancing and African tribal costumes.
  • Jesse Dixon Jr., director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, will present a Black History Month Dialogue on Diversity with California Newsreels "Race — The Power of an Illusion," a three-episode film series. His presentations will run from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Feb. 7, 12 and 21 in the Presidents Room, Davies Center
    • Feb. 7. *Episode 1: "The Difference Between Us" examines the contemporary science — including genetics — that challenges our common sense assumptions that human beings can be bundled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits.
    • Feb. 14. *Episode 2: "The Story We Tell" uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination. Episode 2 is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, American social inequalities as "natural."
    • Feb. 21. *Episode 3: "The House We Live In" asks, if race is not biology, what is it? Episode 3 uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions make race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people.
    • Descriptors property of California Newsreel. For more information, contact Dixon at 715-836-5503 or dixonjl@uwec.edu.
  • Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, associate professor of history, will give a presentation from noon-1:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Presidents Room of Davies Center. Her presentation, "1968: The Year that Changed Everything," will highlight the civil rights movement, Black Power and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The presentation is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

For more information about Black History Month, contact Christine Webster in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at 715-836-3367.

-30-

CW/NW

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