Feb. 4, 2010

Black History Month events begin Feb. 8

by Teddi Barron, News Service

For more than 30 years, the United States has recognized February as Black History Month. To help celebrate the month this year, Iowa State will offer a variety of events in the Memorial Union. All are free and open to the public.

Who will lead?

Jeff Johnson, a journalist, social activist and political commentator, will speak on "Unclaimed Legacy: Who Will Lead?" at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, in the Great Hall.

Originally known as "Cousin Jeff," Johnson has earned a reputation as the "conscience voice" of BET networks. He is committed to fostering broad-based communication about issues related to race, politics, pop culture and socioeconomics. Johnson's new book, Everything I'm Not Made Me Everything I Am, is a call to service for the post-Civil Rights generation.

Johnson has worked as a senior adviser for media and youth outreach for People for the American Way, national director of the youth and college division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and vice president of Russell Simmons' Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

American apathy

Spoken word artist and community leader Ise Lyfe will present a one-man show, "Is Everybody Stupid (?)" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, in the Cardinal Room.

The multimedia, interactive show is a fast-paced and detailed look into American apathy, disengagement and ignorance. From commercial hip-hop defining white youth's notions of the African-American experience, to the commodification of poverty, to Obama's ascendancy to the White House, Lyfe's session engages participants with his critical and creative analysis.

Lyfe's artistic work includes his 2006 debut album, spreadtheWord, and his latest, Prince Cometh. He also authored a play, Who's Krazy? and a forthcoming book, Pistols and Prayers. Lyfe has performed in Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on HBO, and at more than 60 universities. He also works with local organizations addressing the educational, social and political needs of young people in San Francisco and Oakland.

Standup comedy

Veteran standup comic Reese Waters will perform at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Maintenance Shop. Waters can be seen on Comedy Central's Michael and Michael Have Issues. Last year, Reese won the annual Caroline's Comedy Competition and the Emerging Comics Contest at the New York Underground Comedy Festival. In March 2009, he was featured as one of 10 comedians to watch in New York Magazine. Reese has appeared on Comics Unleashed, Total Request Live, Good Morning America and National Public Radio.

Free land

Ariel Luckey will present "Free Land: Race and Land in America" at noon Friday, March 5, in the Sun Room. Luckey's multimedia presentation provides background information on the 1862 Homestead Act, post-slavery reconstruction programs, and the Indian Wars to illustrate how discriminatory federal land policies of the 19th century established today's patterns of land ownership.

Luckey is a hip-hop theater artist who weaves storytelling, spoken word poetry, dance, acting and hip-hop music into compelling narratives of personal and political transformation. His diverse performance locations have included the streets of Seattle during the WTO demonstrations, Café Cantante in Havana, Cuba, and the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City. His presentation is part of the Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity, ISCORE 2010. (A full schedule of events and registration information are available online.)