The Six O’Clock Series opened the 2013 Spring Semester with a successful Black History Month panel cosponsored by the African American Cultural Center.
It started with a poetry slam. Chinaka Hodge, 2008 East Bay Express Best Poet, read an original piece about Jordan Davis. Davis was a 17-year old shot and killed in Florida while waiting in his car at a gas station. Hodge delivered the piece with passion and set the stage for an evening of insight.
The panel was moderated by James Braxton Peterson, an English and African Studies faculty member at Lehigh University. Peterson used questions like “describe something you learned from the generation before you that you want to pass along to the next generation” as a way to draw out the historical nature of the panel. In so doing, the panelists helped to illustrate how art has been and continues to be utilized as a form of resistance.
Originally the panel was to have included Sonja Sanchez and Haki Madhabuti. Sanchez, the author of 18 books and recipient of the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry, was forced to postpone her visit to IUP due to health concerns. Madhabuti was unable to secure transportation from Chicago due to weather concerns. Their vacancies were filled by Claude “Paradise” Gray and Jasiri X. Gray was a founding member of the 1990’s hip-hop group Clan X and continues to be a photographer, activist, and leader in Pittsburgh. Jasiri X is a rapper, blogger, and community leader in Pittsburgh known for his blog This Week with Jasiri X and his hit “What if the Tea Party Was Black?” Recently, Jasiri and Paradise have collaborated to create One Hood Media, an experience designed to help young black men critically analyze media and develop skills to create their own media.
Other panelists included “Popmaster” Fabel Pabon and Michael Skolnik. Pabon has been a dancer and performer and is currently working on a documentary project. Skolnik currently serves on the board of directors for the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Regarding Trayvon, Skolnik said: “When black kids are murdered, they become a number, not a name.” He encourages the remembrance of the person and their life, in addition to who they are.
Over 150 persons came to hear the members of the panel speak. The audience included faculty, staff, students, and members of the local community. The Six O’Clock Series is grateful to the Student Cooperative Association and the African American Cultural Center for their assistance producing this program.
The next series is scheduled for February 18 and will feature the “In Sisterhood” exhibit. “In Sisterhood” focuses on the leaders of the women’s movement in Pittsburgh. Facebook users can follow the series on Facebook.
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