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Symposium focuses on defining the black experience

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friend Center

A symposium designed to highlight important developments and achievements of black people in America will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Friend Center on the Princeton University campus. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required by Thursday, Feb. 19.

The event, titled "From the Middle Passage to the Oval Office: Defining the Black Experience," will feature talks on a range of issues facing the black community, as well as distinguished speakers, a mayoral panel discussion and graduate student presentations. Princeton's Office of Academic Affairs and Diversity in the Graduate School is sponsoring the event along with the Black Graduate Student Caucus in honor of Black History Month.

"This is an extraordinary moment in American history, and this symposium underscores the contributions and achievements Americans of African descent have consistently made to American society," said Karen Jackson-Weaver, associate dean of academic affairs and diversity in the Graduate School. "In addition, it provides a unique forum to interrogate, engage and explore how one defines 'the black experience' and what it means to think of this experience in historical terms. Given the exceptional caliber of the speakers and presenters, this symposium is poised to make an invaluable contribution to Princeton's rich intellectual legacy."

Speakers at the symposium will include:

  • Jeff Johnson, host and producer of Black Entertainment Television's "The Truth";
  • Phylicia Rashad, award-winning actress;
  • Linda Coles-Kauffman, executive producer and host of New Jersey Network's "Another View";
  • David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City;
  • Doug Palmer, mayor of Trenton, N.J.; and
  • Mildred Trotman, mayor of Princeton Borough, N.J.

"In our first Black History Month symposium, we hope to create a space for national and international discussion of the achievements, challenges, hopes and history of people of African descent," said Jennifer Jones, a doctoral student in history at the University and student organizer with Princeton's Black Graduate Student Caucus. "Embedded in our symposium title, 'From the Middle Passage to the Oval Office,' is a spirit of celebration over the achievements of black people, while remaining ever cognizant of the various institutional, social and political challenges that need to be addressed.

"We hope that this symposium will provide a forum for students, faculty members, prospective students, members of local communities and others to come together to celebrate and reflect on the black experience in the past, present and future," Jones said.

Lectures, panels and student presentations will take place in 1, 4, 6 and 8 Friend Center. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided for registered attendees.

An admissions information session for prospective students interested in master's and doctoral programs at Princeton's Graduate School will be held at 8 a.m. in the Friend Center Convocation Room.

Individuals interested in attending the Feb. 21 symposium are encouraged to register online by 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19. Onsite registration will be available at 8 a.m. on Feb. 21.

Members of the news media who wish to attend the event must e-mail jlyde@princeton.edu no later than noon Thursday, Feb. 19.

More information about the symposium and other Graduate School events is available on the Web via the school's events page.

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