Longwood to hold mini-symposium for African-American History Month

January 26, 2009

Courtesy of Longwood

Dr. Brett Gadsden “Learning the Lessons of America’s Racial Past through History and Literature: A Mini-Symposium” will be held Tuesday, Feb. 10, at Longwood University.

The event, part of African-American History Month, will include a lecture on school desegregation by Dr. Brett Gadsden, a historian, at 3:30 p.m. in Hull Auditorium and a poetry reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey at 7:30 p.m. in Wygal Auditorium. The title of Gadsden’s lecture is “‘Busing is a Phony Issue”: Joseph Biden and the Liberal Retreat from School Desegregation.” The poetry reading will be followed by a reception and book-signing in the Haga Room in Wygal.

Gadsden, a specialist in 20th century African-American history, is professor of African-American studies at Emory University and the author of Victory Without Triumph: School Desegregation in Delaware, forthcoming from University of Pennsylvania Press. Trethewey is the Phyllis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University. She is the author of three acclaimed books of poetry, the most recent of which, Native Guard, received the Pulitzer Prize in 2006.

The mini-symposium was organized by Dr. Martha Cook, professor of English; Dr. Larissa Fergeson, associate professor of history; and Lonnie Calhoun, director of multicultural affairs and international student services. It is funded by the American Democracy Project, Longwood University, and Lancer Productions, and co-sponsors are the Black Student Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Robert Russa Moton Museum: A Center for the Study of Civil Rights in Education, and the Call Me MISTER Program. All events are free and open to anyone.

There will be an essay contest and poetry contest as ways for students to continue their engagement with the ideas of the mini-symposium. Entries will be judged by panels of faculty and staff.

Gadsden and Trethewey, who are married, both have a Virginia connection. Gadsden has a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University, and Trethewey’s master’s degree is from Hollins College, where her father, Eric Trethewey, also a poet, taught for many years.

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