The new Associate Director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience and one of the organizers of the upcoming MTW is Salamishah Tillet.
Tillet sat down recently with WBGO's News Director Doug Doyle to talk about this year's MTW's theme: The Erotic as Power: Sexuality and the Black Experience.
The event begins at 9:30am on Saturday, February 16th at the Paul Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers University-Newark.
The annual Black History Month conference will bring to Newark renowned scholars and performers whose pioneering and award-winning work has powerfully shaped America’s understanding of sexuality’s history and its role in contemporary life.
The first is E. Patrick Johnson, a scholar/artist who has published and performed widely on race, gender, and sexuality. Following a performance by world renowned violinist, Dr. Melanie Hill, Mr. Johnson will open the MTW conference with an innovative lecture/performance.
The day’s other speakers and performers will be pioneering filmmaker, producer, and actor, Cheryl Dunye; Associate Professor and chair of African American Studies at UCLA, Marcus Hunter; and poet and University of Minnesota educator, Alexis Pauline Gumbs.
Tillet is also the founding director fo the New Arts Social Justice Initiative at Express Newark/RU-N and a professor of African Amerian and African Studies and creative writing at RU-N. The mother of two is the cofounder and president of A Long Walk Home, The Chicago nonprofit that uses the arts to end violence against women and girls.
Tillet, who has been living in Newark for the past ten years, says she's very excited about this year's MTW.
"We wanted to bring in a group of academics and artists who have been really questioning and probing and pushing both academia but also our larger culture into thinking about how race and sexuality and race and gender kind of operate in tandem with each other. So it was an opportunity to really think through complicated questions about identity and African-American identity in particular but also do it with it a real interdisciplinary edge. So we have poets, playwrights, sociologists and filmakers all coming in contact with each other in conversation with each other to explore these issues and what it means to them as people but also what it means to us as a country."
Tillet is also working on a book about Nina Simone.
The conference will be followed by a reception in the Engelhard Court of the Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street. The reception will feature food and live musical entertainment by The Bradford Hayes Trio.
Click above to hear the entire interview with Salamishah Tillet.