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“Call to Freedom” will celebrate African-American women poets

The work of African-American writers—and of African-American women poets, in particular—will be honored at Lehigh with a “Call to Freedom, Call to Action, Call to Love” celebration at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26 in Linderman Library’s Bayer Galleria (Room 342).

The event, which is free and open to the public, is the last in a series of Black History Month events held at Lehigh throughout February.

As in past years, readings will be drawn from the African-American literary tradition that “has moved and influenced us, inspired and humbled us,” according to Stephanie Powell Watts, assistant professor of English and co-organizer, with assistant English professor Seth Moglen, of the event.

“Students, faculty and staff and administrators read from their favorite poems and prose, and everyone says a few words about why that passage means something to them,” says Watts, whose own literary work was recently recognized with the Best Emerging Writer award from the Southern Women Writers Conference. “It is a really special evening.”

Alta Thornton, director of Multicultural Affairs—the sponsoring organization for the literary celebration—says that this program has traditionally provided “a way for members of the Lehigh community to come together, connect with this material and deepen their appreciation of African-American literature.”

In sharing writing loved and inspired by so many, Moglen says, “We are extending the tradition. We pass on to a new generation these resources of hope, these calls to freedom, to action, to love.”

Literary giants previously honored at Lehigh’s Black History Month events include James Baldwin, August Wilson and W.E.B. DuBois. This year’s readings will focus on the works of African-American poets Phillis Wheatley, Gwendolyn Bennett, June Jordan, Angelina Weld-Grimke, Audre Lorde and Nikki Giovanni, among others.

This event will be preceded by an informal discussion organized through the Lehigh POP program titled “Big Pimpin,” an examination of Black masculinity. That discussion will begin at 5 p.m., Monday, Feb. 25 in Maginnes 102.

Lehigh POP is a year-long exploration of American popular culture intended to analyze past events and contemporary issues through various critical perspectives. The program was organized during the summer of 2007 by Thornton; John McKnight, assistant director of Multicultural Affairs; and Michelle Issadore, then-interim director of the Women’s Center; to find ways to expand discussions of pop culture to include an examination of social justice issues.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2008

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