In the news: coverage of Soul Food Dinner

The Green Bay Press-Gazette on Saturday (Feb. 18) ran a nice story about Friday’s Soul Food Dinner, held at the Mauthe Center on campus. The event, one of more than a dozen UW-Green Bay is hosting in conjunction with Black History Month, featured delicious eats along with good company, the paper reported. The event featured homemade food including barbequed ribs, red beans with rice, pulled pork and corn muffins, along with musical performances and a message from Phoenix men’s basketball coach Brian Wardle. Read the full story.

For a complete listing of UW-Green Bay Black History Month events, see our news release.

Harlem Renaissance Day at Common Grounds

The Black History Month programing committee has designated Thursday (Feb. 23) Harlem Renaissance Day. To honor the literary contributions of African American writers of the era, there will be readings on the Common Grounds stage from 10 a.m. to 2 pm. All are welcome to read material from the era or just listen and take in the event. Reading materials will be available on-site. Those interested in reading should contact Kate Farley (farlkc06@uwgb.edu) to schedule a time and materials.

That evening, Prof. Adam Gaines will lead a group of faculty musicians in a performance of music of the era. That concert will begin at 7:30 on the Common Grounds stage.

For more information on these events and the other remaining events on the Black History Month program, please contact Vince Lowery (loweryj@uwgb.edu) or Shawn Robinson (robinsos@uwgb.edu).

Snapshot: Panel discusses African Americans, sports

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Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.

Black History Month events continued Feb. 16 at UW-Green Bay with a panel discussion on African Americans and sports. Among those taking part in the event were, above, from left, Green Bay Press-Gazette sports reporter Kareem Copeland, Phoenix basketball player Josh Humphrey, current Green Bay Packers administrative staff member and former player Rob Davis, and Phoenix freshman Keifer Sykes. UW-Green Bay Prof. James Coates, Education, hosted the event.

The panelists discussed a variety of topics, including sports and African-American culture; personal role models; balancing athletics and education; and whether there is an overemphasis on athletics in the African-American community. The event was held in the Christie Theatre of the University Union.

Black History Month events continue through Feb. 29 at UW-Green Bay. A complete list of activities is available here.

Slideshow: Freedom Rider delivers evocative address to capacity crowd

Freedom Rider Hank Thomas wowed a large crowd Wednesday evening (Feb. 15), delivering an evocative address that offered reflections on his own story, as well as thoughts on the present and future state of race relations in this country. Just 19 years old when he first boarded an integrated bus headed for the Deep South, Thomas, 70, is one of only four of the original 13 Freedom Riders still alive today. His address, which packed the Union’s Phoenix Room, was part of the University’s long-running Historical Perspectives Lecture Series, and also served as the keynote event for Black History Month on campus. Story and photos.

Reminder: Panel on African Americans and sports, 5 p.m. today

Black History Month events continue today (Thursday), with a panel discussion on African Americans and sports. The event will feature current and former athletes, administrators and members of the news media offering their views and taking questions. The discussion runs from 5-7 p.m. in the Union’s Christie Theatre. For a full list of Black History Month events, see our news release.
 

Freedom Rider Thomas delivers message of challenge, hope

Freedom Rider Hank Thomas speaks at UW-Green BayHank Thomas’ dream would find him debating, at the age of 19, how he preferred to die — in a burning bus or at the hands of the angry mobs outside who set it ablaze. It would see him beaten for failing to address a police officer as “sir,” and it would land him in the darkness of solitary confinement at Parchman State Prison Farm.

But it wouldn’t find Thomas, one of the original Civil Rights-era Freedom Riders, sorry for any of it.

“No regrets, ever,” he told a capacity crowd Wednesday at UW-Green Bay. “What I did was part of my DNA.”

Thomas, 70, has been fighting for justice and equality for more than five decades. At age 19, he boarded an integrated bus, bound for the Deep South, to protest segregation laws. He would later be arrested, imprisoned, and have his life threatened too many times to count. But Thomas would remain undeterred, using non-violent resistance and a steely resolve to fight injustice wherever it lived.

“When I boarded that bus, 50 years ago, 1961, I was in search of my American dream, that elusive American dream,” Thomas said, “the dream whose preamble states that all men — that we hold these truths as self-evident that all men are created with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“And 50 years later, my dream of old has not been tarnished. It’s lost neither tone nor tint. And it still stands a-glimmering, through the veils of yesteryear.”

Thomas’ address, part of UW-Green Bay’s long-running Historical Perspectives Lecture Series, also served as the keynote event for Black History Month at the University. It began with the showing of a 15-minute segment of the PBS documentary, “Freedom Riders,” which features Thomas. The man himself then was welcomed with a standing ovation, standing in front of a capacity crowd that well exceeded 200 people. Students from a Green Bay high school held a hand-made sign that read simply, “Thank you, Mr. Thomas.”

During his speech and the audience Q & A that followed, Thomas covered topics that included his own unfathomable experiences, the progress that has been made and the challenges of racism that still exist today. He lauded racial reconciliation efforts that have taken place in Mississippi, once a hotbed of segregation and racial violence, and said states further north could learn from those initiatives.

“The problem is in the north now,” Thomas said. “And the question is, are you prepared to look in the mirror and deal with it?”

Part of the issue, Thomas said, is awareness. During his visit to campus — the evening keynote and an earlier event with faculty and staff — he implored his audiences to see the 2012 movie “Red Tails,” which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. The movie illuminates the contributions made by African Americans during the war, said Thomas, himself a Vietnam veteran, offering an often-unseen but critically important look at American history. He also urged parents to lead for their children.

“Prejudice has to be learned,” Thomas said. “So set a good example for them.”

Thomas’ words resonated with the capacity crowd, and many attendees were moved to tears as he concluded his address. The Freedom Rider was in the spring of his life when he first boarded that famous bus, he said, and is now in the autumn of his existence.

“Of the 13 original Freedom Riders, only four of us are still alive today,” he said. “I have been to many wakes, and I have raised my glasses to their memories. For memories are all that I have left of them now. And memories, they don’t leave like people do. They always stay with you.”

As does their legacy.

“And to you I say of the Freedom Riders,” Thomas concluded his address, “we saw something wrong, and we decided to do something about it.”

Click here to see a video of this event.

Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.
– Photos by Kimberly Vlies, Office of Marketing and University Communication

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Reminder: Freedom Rider Thomas speaks at 5 p.m. today

Just a friendly reminder that Hank Thomas, one of the original Civil Rights-era Freedom Riders, will be speaking at 5 p.m. today (Wednesday) in the Phoenix Room. The event, part of UW-Green Bay’s Black History Month lineup, will feature Thomas’ personal reflections and excerpts from a Freedom Riders documentary. Thomas, 70, was just 19 years old when he boarded an integrated bus bound for the Deep South, part of a protest against racial segregation. He and his fellow Freedom Riders risked imprisonment and death in pursuit of justice and the greater good. Thomas spoke this afternoon to a group of faculty and staff, offering a stirring account of the past, along with thought-provoking reflections on the present and future of race relations in this country. Today’s 5 p.m. address is free and open to the public. We’ll have photos and more in tomorrow’s edition of the LOG. 

Freedom Rider Thomas speaks Wednesday; special Q & A for faculty, staff

A friendly reminder that Freedom Rider Hank Thomas will be part of a special Black History Month event, slated for Wednesday, that will feature Thomas’ reflections and excerpts from a Freedom Riders documentary. That event is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. in the Phoenix Room. We also wanted to share a special event exclusively for UW-Green Bay faculty and staff, a Q & A with Thomas slated for 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the Christie Theatre. This unique chance to interact with one of the original Freedom Riders is not to be missed. Questions about either event can be directed to Vince Lowery (loweryj@uwgb.edu) or Shawn Robinson (robinsos@uwgb.edu).
 

New details on Freedom Rider Hank Thomas, and Wednesday’s visit


Here’s an update on the visit to campus Wednesday (Feb. 15) by Hank Thomas, one of the original Freedom Riders. Thomas will speak about the 1961 rides and his broader experiences in the Civil Rights Movement. The event will begin at 5 p.m. with a brief screening of portions of the PBS documentary Freedom Riders, which will be followed by Thomas’ talk. After his presentation, Thomas will answer questions from the audience. Please note that the location of the event has been changed from the Christie Theatre to the Phoenix Room to accommodate a larger audience. For more information, please contact Vince Lowery or Shawn Robinson.

Busy week for Black History Month events


Also in store for the week of Feb. 13-17 at UW-Green Bay:
Lecture: “Crossing Bok Chitto: A Story of Love and Freedom Across Cultures:” 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, Alumni Room, University Union. Lisa Poupart, associate professor of Humanistic Studies and chair of First Nations Studies, speaks about a time when Native Americans and African Americans worked together to achieve freedom and independence.
Documentary: “Freedom Riders:” 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, Phoenix Room. (Details in previous item.)
Panel Discussion: African Americans and Sports 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, Christie Theatre, University Union. Current and former athletes, sports administrators and managers, along with writers, historians and members of the public will discuss views on playing, leaving and watching sports.
Soul Food Dinner: 4-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, Mauthe Center. Catered by Art and Soul Café and featuring guest speaker and UW-Green Bay men’s basketball Coach Brian Wardle, this event will feature traditional soul food selections. Tickets are $5 for UW-Green Bay students and $10 for faculty, staff and community members.