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Symbol of reconciliation, peacemaking and pacification

25th Annual W.E.B. DuBois Distinguished Lecture Series

By Erika Jennings & Chanelle Schnieder

On Wednesday, November 12, students, staff, and faculty alike, along with other interested people packed into the UC Ballroom for the 25th Annual W.E.B. DuBois Distinguished Lecture Series. This yearly event, hosted by UMBC’s Africana Studies Department, is a means of acknowledging the achievements of W.E.B. DuBois, America’s first African-American scholar. These achievements include being a founder of the NAACP and being one of the first African-American males to earn a Ph.D. This year also marks the centennial anniversary of DuBois’ publication “The Souls of Black Folk”. The keynote speaker this year was Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Tatum is the author of the book Why Do All the Black Kids Sit Together at the Lunch Table?, a discussion of race and how it is manifested in today’s society. Tatum opened up her discussion with asking the audience a simple question: What was your first race memory? She then asked the audience to comment on their age at the time of the experience. The average age was about 10 years old. When asked what their emotions were during their experience, most people said they felt sadness, anger, pain, confusion, shock, or guilt. Some people said they chose not to talk about the particular experience with their family members because at times it was a family member who caused the emotion. Dr. Tatum introduced “the notion that you’re not supposed to talk about it” - the way that many of our families taught us to react to situations such as these. In order to overcome racism, though, we must “push past the discomfort” because it “can be fun to engage in conversation.” A conversation can lead to change, and the best way to impact change is to talk about it.

Although the event was a huge success, with the ballroom almost filled to capacity, it did not get the

recognition that an event of this caliber deserves. Weekly, UMBC’s student run newspaper follow:

Students’ reactions to an article posted in the Retriever

“Subconsciously biased” –Alvin Lowe

“Ridiculous; but [we] could not expect any less from our infamous Retriever. God bless UMBC – our oh so diverse campus.” – Jay Nwachu

“Yet another disappointment from our so well funded school newspaper.” – Gilbert Jose

“How scrabble, the fitness Guru, and handicapped door abuse encompass a combined 3 pages in the Retriever, but a three hour event with over four hundred guests get[s] less than a 5 x 6 space with a 3 x 3 picture? This signifies black students’ significance here at UMBC.” – Jakana Thomas (NY)

“I think it is a shame that such an important event honoring a prominent African American gets so little attention, but it is not surprising.” – Andrea Clark

“The pinnacle of the Social Science Forum summed up in a mere photo and a 150 word blurb. We boast about our diversity and then hide the very thing we pretend to be so proud of. Are we truly diverse or just putting on “blackface”, masquerading our pride in our supposed diversity?” – Durell Callier

“[It] contained no information. The only purpose of the article was to tell us the purpose of the lecture.” – Israel Cross

“I cannot say that this blatant disrespect from the Retriever Weekly is surprising or uncommon. My true issue or disappointment comes from knowing that there are people of color with high positions on the staff and nothing more is being said about a successful black leader who has worked to pave the way and open doors for not only people of her race but people of other backgrounds, as well.” – Stevy Bradley

symbol of democracy and unity


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