IUPUI Africana studies program presents first Heritage Week

The Africana Studies Program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will inaugurate the first Africana Studies Heritage Week Feb. 9 to 13.

The weeklong celebration will feature a series of public lectures; panel discussions; an art exhibit curated by Bessie House-Soremekun, professor and director of Africana studies; a book signing by Ronda Henry Anthony, public scholar of African American studies and undergraduate research; and film viewings based on the theme of “Reconnecting the African Diaspora to Africa.”

“It is entirely fitting and important for us to establish Africana Studies Heritage Week as one of the important traditions that we will celebrate yearly at IUPUI,” House-Soremekun said.

“We are delighted that we will celebrate the creation of black studies/Africana studies as a viable discipline in academia and pay tribute to the numerous contributions of Africa and of African-descended people who reside in the African Diaspora as part of the broader Black History Month activities. Africa is the birthplace of humankind as we know it and has been central in the development of global civilization processes. Our goal is to expose students, faculty and members of the broader community as a whole to these important issues.”

The Heritage Week celebrations will kick off Monday, Feb. 9, with a lecture featuring Dawn Batson, the former chair of the Department of Visual & Performing Arts at the Florida Memorial University and former chair of the National Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago, as the keynote speaker.

The event begins at 11:40 a.m. in Room 104 of Taylor Hall, 815 W. Michigan St., with introductions from House-Soremekun and Khalilah Shabazz, director of the IUPUI Multicultural Center. Batson will speak from noon to 12:45 p.m.

As part of the Heritage Week observance, House-Soremekun will present an art exhibit and lecture, “The Africa the World Seldom Sees.” Using African artwork from her personal collection, as well as photos she took when she served as a faculty host on the “Treasures of East Africa Tour” to Tanzania and Kenya in 2014 (sponsored by the Indiana University Alumni Association), House-Soremekun will challenge stereotypical images of Africa often presented in popular culture by presenting a compelling counter-narrative that illuminates many positive attributes and beauty of African society.

The art exhibit is open for public viewing Feb. 9 to 28 in Taylor Hall, Room 101.

“The inaugural Africana Studies Heritage Week features a full line-up of very interesting and enjoyable events,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “I commend all those who have collaborated on the organization of this new program, and we’re looking forward to its successful launch.”

Other events open to students, faculty and the general public during Heritage Week include:

12:50 to 2:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, Taylor Hall, Room 115k — Panel discussion about the recent critically acclaimed film “Selma,” moderated by Monroe Little, associate professor of Africana studies and history.
6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, Taylor Hall, Room 101 — A public reception with an Evening of Jazz performed by Bryan Thompson.
1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, Taylor Hall, Room 104 — The lecture “Negotiating Patriarchy, Colonial Legacies and Human Rights Law in Africa” by Obioma Nnaemeka, Chancellor’s professor of French, Africana studies and women’s studies;
Noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, Taylor Hall, Room 104 — A lecture by Ronda Henry Anthony about her book, “Searching for the New Black Man, Black Masculinity and Women’s Bodies.”
10 a.m. to noon Friday, Feb. 13, Taylor Hall, Room 115K — Viewing of the film “Honor & Glory,” the story of the co-discoverer of the North Pole, Matthew Henson.

Additional sponsors for the weeklong event include the IUPUI Office of Admissions; the IU School of Liberal Arts; Office for Diversity, Access, and Inclusion; Multicultural Center, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development.

The first annual Africana Studies Heritage Week is free and open to the public. A complete listing of events is available online.

For more information, call the Africana studies program at 317-274-8662.

Khalilah Shabazz appointed director of IUPUI Multicultural Success Center

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Karen Dace has announced the appointment of Khalilah A. Shabazz as director of the IUPUI Multicultural Success Center effective Jan. 1.

The Multicultural Success Center seeks to engage students and the IUPUI community in proactive dialogue around issues of diversity and multiculturalism, including the community voice through service and outreach; and articulate and address the needs of students, faculty and staff across lines of color, gender, ethnicity, ability and orientation.

As director of the Multicultural Success Center, Shabazz will be responsible for the management, planning and continued development of the center, including providing leadership in multicultural awareness and diversity education, as well as ensuring the center serves as an advocate for underrepresented students — including minority, female, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students — by offering educational and social programming aimed at their personal development, retention and success.

“Khalilah’s extensive educational and professional experiences, as well as her keen grasp of the complex issues of diversity and multiculturalism in higher education, make her an ideal candidate for this position,” Dace said. “Her energy, drive and commitment to IUPUI and the success of our students will serve the campus, university and Indianapolis community well.”

Working at IUPUI since 2001, Shabazz has almost exclusively focused on how best to support and retain underrepresented populations. Shabazz first joined campus staff as the assistant director for student retention and scholarship in the Office of Student Scholarships. Most recently, she served as director of University College’s Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program. There she was responsible for developing and implementing program concepts and objectives that promote retention and success of underrepresented students at IUPUI, as well as offering direction of resources, clarification of documents and other assistance to help entering underrepresented students and their families make a successful transition into IUPUI.

“I consider it an incredible opportunity to serve as the director of the Multicultural Success Center. The IUPUI students, staff and faculty along with the community are key partners in the success of the center,” Shabazz said. “I am excited and look forward to working with everyone to develop a premier Multicultural Success Center that advances IUPUI’s commitment to diversity through education, advocacy and research.”

Shabazz holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI and a Master of Science in higher education and student affairs from the IU School of Education at IUPUI, with the distinction of summa cum laude. Shabazz is pursuing her Ph.D. in higher education and student affairs at IUPUI with an expected graduation date of May 2014.