Past Speakers, 1989-1999

  • 1999. Campus Theme: "On The Verge of a New Millennium…STAND!" A performance of the play "Camp Logan" by Celeste Bedford Walker. This gripping drama, based on the 1917 court-martial and execution of 19 black soldiers from the US Army's 24th Infantry who mutinied in Houston, tells the story of superlatives. It was the largest mutiny in the U.S. Armed Forces and resulted in the largest murder trial in U.S. History. Camp Logan has been touring for more than 15 years; it won the 1994 NAACP Award for Best Drama; and it is the #1 Black History Program of the U.S. Department of Defense. A fully staged production with a cast of nine, "Camp Logan" explores the emotional and cultural pressures that brought a group of black soldiers with a record of exemplary service to the military bar and the executioner's field.
  • 1998. Campus Theme:"Why We Can't Wait." Patricia Gaines' first book, 1994's Laughing in the Dark: From Colored Girl to Woman of Color--A Journey from Prison to Power, expanded on her spoken recollections to become an inspirational autobiography. Career highlights: Journalist and public speaker. Washington Post, Washington, DC, journalist, 1985--; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, presenter of "It Happens Here: Oppression, Drugs, and Self-Discovery, " 1997; also worked for other newspapers, including The Charlotte Observer and The Miami Herald.
  • 1997. Campus Theme: "Campaign for a Unified Community of Justice." "I don't want to say the same thing as everyone else," Farai Chideya told People Magazine, reflecting on her unique position as a young black woman television correspondent with ABC. "I'm trying to update our view of America." With a background in journalism, a stint at MTV, frequent spots on CNN political roundtables and other public affairs programs, an Internet website, and two well-reviewed books, Chideya has dedicated herself to overturning American myths about race, gender, sexuality and other matters with tenacity and zeal. Chideya was born in New York to a Zimbabwean businessman father and an American mother who worked as a journalist and as a high school teacher. During her childhood she traveled to Zimbabwe and Kenya. She did most of her growing up in Baltimore.
  • 1996. After being dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force for opposing a white colonel, Bobby Seale returned to his California home, where he began his studies at Merritt College. As a member of the school's Afro-American Association, Seale met activist Huey P. Newton, with whom he founded the Black Panther Party, a militant organization aimed at protecting ghetto residents from police brutality and securing equal rights for blacks. Although at first an entirely black organization, the Panthers in 1968 included some white radical groups and came to be known as the Peace and Freedom Party.
  • bell hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins)
    1995. Gloria Jean Watkins, who writes under the name bell hooks (cited in lowercase), has written prolifically about many social issues. Her work takes an approach that is at once analytical yet also impassioned and personal. She explores the ways that African-American culture, womanhood, feminism, the civil rights movement, and critical theory both clash and complement each other, in the world at large and in her personal life. She has challenged the feminist movement with being largely racist, and has frequently voiced her concern over the negative images of blacks perpetuated in the popular media.
  • Mary Frances Berry
    1994. Mary Frances Berry is a longtime member of the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights who served as its chair during the Clinton presidency. A legal scholar and historian based at the University of Pennsylvania, Berry has concerned herself with issues of civil rights and women's equality with emphasis upon the Equal Rights Amendment. Born in Nashville and educated at Howard University and the University of Michigan, Berry was serving as chancellor of the University of Colorado in Boulder when she was tapped by President Jimmy Carter to be the assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In January of 1980, Carter named her to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She was vice chair of the commission until 1982, and then continued in her membership until President Bill Clinton appointed her as chair in 1993.
  • Gloria Naylor
    1993. Campus Theme: "From Indifference and Inequality to Justice and Reconciliation." Gloria Naylor won critical and popular acclaim for her first published novel, The Women of Brewster Place. In that book, as in her successive novels, including Linden Hills, Mama Day, and The Men of Brewster Place, Naylor gave an intense and vivid depiction of many social issues, including poverty, racism, homophobia, discrimination against women, and the social stratification of African Americans.
  • Alex Haley, 1921-1992
    1992. Alex Haley: American biographer, scriptwriter, author who became famous with the publication of the novel, Roots. In it Haley traced his ancestry back to Africa and covered seven American generations, starting from his ancestor, Kunta Kinte. The book was adapted to television series, and stimulated an interest in genealogy, particularly among African-Americans. Haley himself commented that the book was not so much history as a study of mythmaking: "What Roots gets at in whatever form, is that it touches the pulse of how alike we human beings are when you get down to the bottom, beneath these man-imposed differences."
  • Claude Brown, 1937-2002
    1991. Claude Brown was a member of the Harlem Buccaneers Gang's "Forty Thieves" division and served three terms at Warwick School, New York City, during the 1940s. He worked con games and dealt in drugs in New York City, and later worked as a busboy, watch crystal fitter, shipping clerk and jazz pianist in Greenich Village, until the late 1950's. He wrote, Manchild in the Promised Land, (Macmillan, 1965); and The Children of Ham (Stein & Day, 1976).
  • Haki Madhubuti
    1990. As poet, publisher, editor and educator, Haki R. Madhubuti serves as a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition, emerging from the era of the sixties and continuing to the present. Over the years, he has published 24 books (some under his former name, Don L. Lee) and is one of the world's best-selling authors of poetry and non-fiction, with books in print in excess of 3 million.
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917-2000
    1989. The University Library's first speaker in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the precursor of a strong annual program of presentations, Gwendolyn Brooks was a prominent and prolific poet and novelist. In 1950 she became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was also the Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois.
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Last modified: 09/22/2014