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Amandla! presents 'Unity' conference, dinner and dance

DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, THE UNITY CONFERENCE HAS BEEN POSTPONED. A NEW DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED.

Amandla!, the African American student organization at Bates College, presents its fifth annual Unity Conference, Generation C: Generation Consciousness, an exploration of politics, gender and culture, on Saturday, March 17. Members of the public interested in learning about creating a more meaningful sense of community are invited to attend.

“Generation C” is a term used by civil rights activist and historian Cleveland Sellers, the keynote speaker at the college’s 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. birthday observance. According to Amandla! members, Sellers used the label to “appeal to young people to revive a sense of urgency about reconfiguring the ways in which issues of race are discussed and to what end.”

Featuring workshops, food, a keynote speaker and a dance, the conference opens at 2 p.m. with registration in the Perry Atrium of Pettengill Hall. Three consecutive workshops begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Keck Classroom (G52), Pettengill Hall. The workshops are open to the public at no cost. In order of presentation they are:

• Culture and Representation, with William Jelani Cobb, assistant professor of history at Spelman College. Cobb specializes in post-Civil War African American history, 20th- century American politics and the history of the Cold War. Cobb is a fiction writer, critic and essayist whose writings on politics, the African Diaspora and contemporary African American culture have appeared in a number of national outlets. His column Past Imperfect appears regularly on AOL BlackVoices.

• Bridging the Gender Divide, with Joy James, professor of Africana studies, Brown University. James holds a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Fordham University and a postdoctorate degree in religious ethics from the Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University. Her work focuses on political and feminist theory, critical race theory and incarceration.

• Race and Politics, with Devin Fergus, assistant professor of history, Vanderbilt University. Fergus teaches topics in 20th-century America, specializing in African American and modern political history. His current research examines the relations between liberalism and black nationalism in America from 1965 until 1980.

The Unity dinner, to be held at 6 p.m. in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave., will feature tasty fare, including some Somali cuisine. Dinner is free and open to the public.

The dinner’s keynote address will be given by Professor Devin.  Believing history, as novelist James Baldwin once wrote, “is present in all that we do,” Devin received his Ph.D. in that subject from Columbia University. He remains, he says, “dedicated to a critical examination of social issues and policies, even when research contradicts the official version of what we think we know about the past.” He seeks to produce scholarship that engages his peers, informs policy makers and is relevant to a general audience.

The conference concludes with the popular Bates dance troupe, Triad. An annual party since 1981, the dance’s 2007 theme, “Green Day,” is inspired by St. Patrick’s Day, and is held in Chase Hall, 56 Campus Ave., from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Music ranges from dancehall to rock, and featured DJs include Casanova in the Little Room and Bernadzo in Chase Lounge. The dance is open to the public, and tickets can be purchased in advance for $3 or at the door for $5.

Amandla!, a student-run organization at Bates, is dedicated to promoting better understanding among students who exhibit a variety of cultural differences. Its members seek to mediate between student-led initiatives and the Bates community on issues pertaining to cultural difference.



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