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Saturday Academy back by popular demand

February 22nd, 2006

Blaine Hudson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has his Saturdays booked up for months in advance, but it’s all for a cause he holds important for the community.

Hudson is not alone in his commitment, as the University of Louisville launches a revamped Saturday Academy with community partners in western Louisville this month.

High school students and adults will have a weekly opportunity to learn about African American history, culture and current issues at the academy. Free sessions on “Black People in the United States and Throughout the World” will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday Feb. 25–May 28 and will resume in August 2006.

The Saturday Academy will meet the first and third Saturdays of the month at the Shawnee Community Center, 607 S. 37th St., and the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at DuValle Education Center, 3610 Bohne Ave.

Each program will begin with a 90-minute African world seminar led by Hudson, also a Pan-African studies faculty member, and then devote 90 minutes to workshops, speakers and special events presented by the university’s faculty and students and community partners.

For example, Theresa Rajack-Talley of Pan-African studies will lead a session on black women’s studies at the Feb. 25 Saturday Academy at Duvalle Education Center. The March 4 academy at Shawnee Community Center will feature a session titled “Power to the People: Our Black Kentucky Legislators,” featuring Sen. Gerald Neal and Reps. Reginald Meeks and Darryl Owens.

The College of Arts and Sciences and Pan-African studies (PAS) revised the program as a community outreach initiative.

The “old” Saturday Academy operated from 1990 to 2002. Since it closed, people have repeatedly asked Hudson to re-establish the program, he said.

“Other than the courses we offer through PAS and other programs at U of L, there really is no source of accurate and comprehensive information on African, African American and African Diaspora history and culture available in this region,” Hudson said. “There is, however, a hunger for such information instead of what is normally available through contemporary popular culture — which, unfortunately, is usually distorted and often offensive and wrong.

“Regardless of one’s race, one simply cannot construct personal ‘identity,’ given the history of this country, without understanding African Americans and the role that race has played and plays in our society and world, and one cannot build a sense of community among people who do not know themselves or others.”

Co-sponsors of this community effort include Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Urban League, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, Shawnee Community Center and 5th District Metro Council Member Cheri Bryant Hamilton.

The academy is open to high school students and adults, although organizers say programs for children may be developed as needed. Special programs may be offered later at other community sites.

For more information, contact Linda Wilson via e-mail or at 502-852-0271.

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