news releases

2005.01.19 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

Fourth Annual Malcolm X Festival at UNO to Start Feb. 2; Civil Rights Movement and SNCC Will Be Featured

OMAHA - The Civil Rights Movement and the dynamic role played by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) will be the focus of this year's Malcolm X Festival at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), set for Feb. 2-3 and 9-10. The four-day event, titled  "Civil Rights—Issues of the 1960s," is in its fourth year, and is sponsored by the UNO Department of Black Studies.

Veteran SNCC activists and scholars will gather on the UNO campus in the Milo Bail Student Center Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 2 and 3, to explore the impact of SNCC upon civil rights and America.  On Jan. 11, nationally known SNCC leader James Forman, who inspired thousands of young people in the 1960s, died of colon cancer at the age of 76.

"Having an opportunity to hear about the civil rights movement and SNCC directly from people who participated is vitally important," said Robert Chrisman, chair of the UNO Department of Black Studies.  "The death of Jim Forman underscores why we need to take the time to listen and learn."

Clayborne Carson, curator of the Martin Luther King Papers, professor of history at Stanford and the author of In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s  (1981), will give a keynote lecture Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 1 p.m.  Carson also authored Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991) and served as senior advisor for the award-wining PBS series on the civil rights movement, "Eyes on the Prize."

Cleveland Sellers, SNCC organizer, a survivor of the Orangeburg Massacre of 1968 and now a professor at the University of South Carolina, will open the conference with an 11 a.m. lecture.  The Orangeburg Massacre was a bloody confrontation with police that left three young, black protesters shot dead and 27 others wounded on the campus of South Carolina State College.  Other presenters will include Joseph White, an expert on issues of black masculinity, and Arthur Himmelman, a community development specialist and former activist for Students for a Democratic Society.

A lecture by American Muslim scholar Umar Faruq Abd-Allah on Malcolm X and the tradition of American Muslims is set for noon.

The cultural dimension of the Civil Rights Movement will be explored during the second day of the conference, Thursday, Feb. 3.

A product of the 1960s, nationally and internationally known poet Jayne Cortez will read from her works beginning at 11 a.m..  Cortez is known for powerful surrealist expressions that reflect the idioms of jazz, blues and internationally black music of the Diaspora.  She is also the author of 10 volumes of poetry, the most recent A Jazz Fan Looks Back, and eight recordings with her band, The Firespitters, including the dynamic Taking The Blues Back Home. Cortez's awards include the Langston Hughes Award for excellence in the arts and letters, the American Book Award and the International African Festival Award.  She is president and co-founder of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa.

Michael Thelwell, a former field secretary for SNCC, is a distinguished novelist and author of Ready for the Revolution, the recent official biography of former SNCC leader and Pan-African activist Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture.  A professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Thelwell will give a lecture on Carmichael.  He will speak at 1 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with members of the UNO black studies faculty and the Omaha community.

In the evening, Cortez will participate in a poetry jam with local poets at 6 p.m. in the UNO Weber Fine Arts Building.

The following week, Wednesday, Feb. 9, UNO will sponsor a performance by Awele Makeba, who will perform Rage Is Not A 1-Day Thing, The Untaught History of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, at Omaha North High School for 300 sophomore students.  Makeba, a nationally acclaimed performer, uses drama, oral history and music to explore the contributions of three individuals who worked to end legal segregation   She will give an encore performance at UNO on Thursday, Feb.10, 11:30 a.m. in the Milo Bail Student Center's Nebraska Room.

All campus events are free to the public.  For more information, contact Tim Kaldahl at (402) 554-3502 or Felicia Dailey at (402) 554-2412.

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