Feb. 17, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 10

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    Organization of Black Students invites journalist George Curry as guest speaker for Kent Lecture

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    In observance of Black History Month, the Organization of Black Students has invited journalist George Curry, editor in chief of Emerge: Black America’s Newsmagazine, to deliver the annual George E. Kent Lecture.

    The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the Biological Sciences Learning Center, Room 109.

    The Detroit News described Emerge as “perhaps the most important African-American publication in the nation.“ Curry became editor in 1993 and has generated controversy by publishing such stories as “Farrakhan, Jesse and Jews: Can They All Get Along?“ and a magazine cover that depicted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wearing an Aunt-Jemima-like handkerchief on his head.

    Prior to joining Emerge, Curry spent a decade with the Chicago Tribune as its New York bureau chief and Washington, D.C., correspondent, covering Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign, President Clinton’s 1992 campaign and the Democratic National Conventions from 1984 to 1992. During his 11-year tenure at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Curry became the founding director of the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a model for workshops he has developed for aspiring professional, high school and college journalists in New York, Washington, D.C., Germany and Senegal. Curry also has been a commentator on national news broadcasts and has contributed to documentaries on the Public Broadcasting Service.

    “Using the civil rights movement as inspiration, our subject this year will be how a new generation of educators can become active participants in fighting racism and ensuring human rights as we begin a new century,“ said Anka Twum-Baah, president of the Organization of Black Students. “Historically, people from the community, students, faculty and staff all attend the lecture, and we want to encourage everyone to come.“ A question-and-answer session will follow the talk.

    The annual lecture is a tribute to George Kent, the first African-American full professor in Chicago’s Division of the Humanities. A Professor in English Language & Literature from 1970 until his death from cancer in 1982, Kent received his B.A. in English from Savannah State College and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Boston University.

    When Kent was a Visiting Professor at Chicago in the late ’60s, he began a series of lectures in African and black-American humanities that has continued for 32 years.

    Kent led a committee in the Humanities Collegiate Division that was responsible for bringing to campus such speakers as Gwendolyn Brooks, the poet laureate for the state of Illinois, and author George Lamming. More recent lecturers have included Angela Davis, Cornell West and Nikki Giovanni.

    Kent wrote Blackness and the Adventure of Western Culture (Third World Press, 1971) and numerous articles and essays on American and African-American literature. His last work, A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks (University Press of Kentucky), was published posthumously in 1990 with the help of author D.H. Melhem.

    “I had the highest regard for George and have for Gwendolyn as well,“ said Melhem. “I felt this was an important work that needed to be published.“

    The University’s Organization of Black Students, the Student Government Finance Committee, Minority Graduate Student Association and Sistafriends all are sponsoring the lecture.