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News & Events Archive

2008 Herman C. Hudson Symposium

"Lifting the Veil: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Identity and Responsibility in Global Societies"

March 22, 2008

Keynote Speaker:
Sonia Sanchez

The fifth Herman C. Hudson Symposium, on the theme "Lifting the Veil: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Identity and Responsibility in Global Societies," was produced by graduate students in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies with faculty member Professor Audrey McCluskey. Each year the symposium brings together students from a variety of disciplines at Indiana and other universities to present scholarly papers.

Professor Valerie Grim, chair of the department, opened the conference, and Professor Matthew Guterl, co-director of graduate studies, closed it. Graduate student Katie Dieter introduced Sonia Sanchez, the keynote speaker, while the audience partook of a light lunch.

From asking "What does it mean to be human?," Sanchez spoke of human history in its glory and its excessive abuses. In reacting to the current wars being waged by this country, she reviewed earlier periods in U.S. history when protest and activism made a difference. She asked, "Can we reverse this history of genocide?" and insisted that we have the courage to resist oppression in all forms. She suggested that recruiters for the armed forces be met with "push-ups for peace." In concluding her talk, Sanchez recited several of her poems with the dramatic cadence and delivery that she is well known for.

Following lunch and the keynote talk, a musical interlude titled "Color Line," written and composed by Justin Merrick, was performed. Preceding the panel presentations, Sanchez autographed books and chatted informally with conference attendees.

In an interesting twist, several of the panelists, inspired by Sonia Sanchez, geared their presentations to the thematic content of some of Sanchez’s books. Four panels, each with a faculty chair and student panelists, addressed the theme of the symposium.

They were, in order of presentation:


This year's symposium was supported and co-sponsored by AAADS; the departments of English, Comparative Literature, History, and Theatre and Drama; the American Studies Program; The Project on African Expressive Traditions; Office of the Provost; Office of Academic Support and Diversity; Residential programs and Services; the IU Student Association; and the IU Libraries.