Yale to Celebrate Black History Month with Music, Drama, Talks

Readings from the works of Harlem Renaissance writers, concerts featuring African-American music and a forum about the true nature of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, will be among the events taking place at various schools, departments and other Yale University venues in honor of Black History Month. Unless otherwise indicated, events are free and open to the public.

Dramatic readings. “I Dream a World: Readings from Harlem Renaissance Literature” will be presented at the Yale University Art Gallery lecture hall, 1111 Chapel St., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 3-4:30 p.m. Participants include the Reverend Frederick J. Streets, University chaplain; Diane Payton, television host; Howard Foster, vocalist; and several School of Drama students. Robert Stepto, professor of African American studies, American studies and English, will introduce the event, which was organized by School of Drama student Ed Blunt. A reception will follow.

The readings complement the gallery’s current exhibit “Portraiture and the Harlem Renaissance: The Photographs of James L. Allen.”

“Negro Spirituals.” A second Black History Month event being presented at the Yale Art Gallery is “Negro Spirituals,” a program featuring noted musician Willie H. Ruff Jr., adjunct professor at the School of Music, in a performance and discussion Sunday, Feb. 28, at 3 p.m.

Ellington Fellowship concert. Ruff, as half of the renowned Mitchell Ruff Duo, also will help the School of Music celebrate Black History Month by presenting a jazz concert Friday, Feb. 19. The performance – with Ruff on double bass and horn and Dwike Mitchell on piano – will be devoted exclusively to the music of Duke Ellington and is being sponsored by the Duke Ellington Fellowship at Yale. The concert will take place at 8 p.m. in the Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall (SMH). Tickets are $20, $16 and $12 ($6 for students), and may be obtained by calling 432-4158.

“Freedom and Conscience.” Another concert celebrating Black History Month will be presented at Woolsey Hall, corner of Grove and Prospect streets, on Friday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. Thomas C. Duffy, associate dean of the School of Music and director of University bands, will conduct the Yale Concert Band in a program titled “Freedom and Conscience.”

Selections will include Duffy’s “I Sit Alone in Martin’s Church,” which premiered last year on the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The composition reflects a sense of religious heritage born of protest and oppression, yet rooted in early Christianity, says Duffy. He notes that in the work, “solitude, reflection, hope, oppression, sadness, melancholy and the incredible weight of history and tradition all become embodied in sound and echo through Martin’s church.”

Other selections include Adolphus Hailstork’s “Out of the Depths,” Franz Waxman’s “Suite from ‘Taras Bulba’ ” and the world premiere of Keith Gates’ “Concertino for Solo Flute and Wind Ensemble” featuring Ransom Wilson, adjunct professor of music. For more information, call 432-4111.

“Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.” Yale’s newly established Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition will host a forum Friday, Feb. 12, on “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: The Facts and their Significance.” Panelists include Annette Gordon-Reed, New York Law School; Daniel Jordan, Monticello; Peter Onuf, University of Virginia; Drew Gilpin Faust, University of Pennsylvania; and Barbara Oberg, the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Princeton University. The forum will take place at 4 p.m. in Luce Hall auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave. A reception will follow. For more information, call 432-3339.

Playreading series. The Yale Cabaret again will hold its annual “Black History Month Playreading Series.” Readings will take place Sunday evenings, Feb. 7, 14 and 21, at 6 p.m. at the cabaret, 217 Park St. The final event, on Feb. 28, will be a poetry slam hosted by members of the Drama School community and open to participants from other graduate and professional schools and to undergraduates. For more information, call 432-1566.

Other events. Other events taking place on campus to mark Black History Month include:

* Community discussions Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at the Afro-American Culture Center (AACC), 211 Park St. Topics will be “The Declining Significance of ‘Black’: Questions of Identity, Ethnicity & Nationality” Feb. 9; and “Hiphop in the New Millennium: An Intercollegiate Forum” Feb. 16.

* Screenings in the film series “Visions of Africa: Contemporary African Cinema” at 7 p.m. on two Tuesdays in Luce Hall auditorium. The films are: Feb. 9 – The 1988 South African film “Mapantsula (Hustler),” directed by Oliver Schmitz, created by a multi-racial production team and described as “the first feature film from the new South Africa”; and Feb. 23 – The 1991 film out of Guinea-Bissau, “Udju Azul di Yonta (The Blue Eyes of Yonta),” directed by Flora Gomes, examining human relationships against the backdrop of the shattered dreams of African independence.

* A talk by J. Lorand Matory of Harvard University on “Entrepreneurs of Nationhood: The Roots and Routes of the Yoruba Nation” at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5, in Rm. 203 of Luce Hall.

* A screening of the video “W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, at the AACC.

* Sister Circle & When Black Men Talk: “On Gender Relations” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, at the AACC.

* A meeting of the Medical and Legal Minority Initiative (tentative guest: law professor Christopher Darden), at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, at the AACC.

* A discussion of the forthcoming book “Black and Blue at Yale” with author Garry Reeder ‘97 at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the AACC.

* Civil rights and peace activist Don Mosely, cofounder of Habitat for Humanity and a member of the Jubilee Community in Georgia, will be the guest speaker at a Salt of the Earth meeting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the Social Justice Network Room, Dwight Hall, 67 High St.

* A reception hosted by the Connecticut chapter of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, with guest professor E.J. Josey of the University of Pittsburgh, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25, in the AACC.

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