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January 26, 2006



Rebecca Walker

A keynote address by biracial author-activist Rebecca Walker and a performance of poetry and jazz by the celebrated Nuyorican Slam Team are among the highlights of a Black History Month celebration that aims for inclusiveness. This year's theme, inspired by Sojourner Truth, is "Ain't I a Woman: Black Feminism." Student organizers say they chose it for its potential to resonate throughout the Bryn Mawr community.

"Our goal this year is to increase community participation in Black History Month," says Sisterhood Black History Month Co-Coordinator Tiffany Shumate '08. "Too many people see it as a celebration that is strictly for people of color, and we hope to move away from that perception. We've tried to make the events as welcoming as possible and put together a schedule of events that appeal to a variety of tastes. We're inviting students from Haverford and Swarthmore, too; we want to bring the whole Tri-College community into the celebration."

Keynote speaker Walker is a contributing editor to Ms. magazine and the co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation, a feminist philanthropic organization that supports activism by young women between 15 and 30 years old. She is the author of Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, a memoir of her upbringing as the daughter of the famous African-American writer Alice Walker and Jewish civil-rights lawyer Mel Leventhal and her struggle to negotiate the cultural boundaries imposed by a race-obsessed society. She has edited the anthologies To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism and What Makes a Man: Twenty-two Writers Imagine the Future. Her writings on topics including race, feminism, bisexuality, hip-hop and masculinity have been published in Harper's,, Interview, Vibe, Essence, SPIN, Glamour and Buddhadharma, among others.

  Nuyorican Slam Team

Shumate is especially enthusiastic about the Nuyorican Slam Team performance, which is co-sponsored by the Self-Government Association's special-events fund. "This is an interactive show," she says. It will feature the Slam Team's jazz band and some award-winning slam poets, but we'll also encourage members of the Tri-Co community to share their poetry and performing talents."

On the schedule:

  • Black History Month Kickoff Tea, Feb. 1, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Perry House
  • Panel Discussion: Who Is a Feminist? Featuring Director of Institutional Research Elena Bernal, Lecturer in Education Jody Cohen, Gender and Sexuality Program Coordinator Anne Dalke, Intercultural Affairs Director Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Maureen McGonigle and Swarthmore sociologist Sarah Willie, Thursday, Feb. 9, 7-9 p.m., Perry House Living Room
  • Nuyorican Slam Team and Jazz Band, Saturday, Feb. 11, 7:15-9:30 p.m., Thomas Great Hall
  • "Continuing the Legacy: Feminists of Color in the New Millennium," Keynote Speech by Rebecca Walker, Thursday, Feb. 16, 7:30-9 p.m., Thomas Great Hall


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