ALANA conference asks: 'Are We There Yet?'

Michael Eric DysonThis year’s African, Latino, Asian and Native American Student Leadership Conference Sept. 13 to 19 at Oswego will look at steps forward and the road ahead with its theme “Are We There Yet?”

Featuring an acclaimed author, music, dance, food, film, workshops and speakers, the ALANA conference promotes unity while celebrating the contributions of many cultures. Traditionally, students from more than 20 colleges around New York state attend.

The event’s keynote speaker will be noted author Michael Eric Dyson (pictured) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Hewitt Union ballroom. Through such books as “April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King’s Death and How It Changed America,” “Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster” and “Is Bill Cosby Right?,” Dyson offers passionate and provocative explorations of the state of race in America.

A sociology professor at Georgetown University and radio host, Dyson has also written celebrated biographies of Tupac Shakur and Marvin Gaye. Dyson’s appearance is free but, due to anticipated demand, tickets are required via the Campus Center box office in person or by calling 312-3073.

Voices and debates

The conference will open with a Sunday service featuring a performance by the SUNY Oswego Gospel Choir at 1 p.m. Sept. 13 in Room C114 of the Campus Center.

The 2007 film “The Great Debaters” starring Denzel Washington will screen at 7 p.m. Sunday in Funnelle Hall. Based on a true story, the movie looks at a debate coach who matches his team at historically black Wiley College against other schools in the 1930s South during the Jim Crow laws.

“Oswego’s Great Debaters” will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, in Johnson Hall. Campus teams will discuss two topics: whether the election of Barack Obama means the end of racism and hip hop’s effects on society.

“Voices Around the Globe” at 6:30 p.m. in the Campus Center auditorium will highlight activities Tuesday, Sept. 15. Poet and Oswego emerita professsor Joan Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu will perform and help host the evening, which will feature an open mic available to poets, musicians and writers among Oswego’s students, staff and faculty.

Music and dance

“Cultural Movements” on Wednesday, Sept. 16, in the Campus Center activity court will showcase three distinct dance styles led by Oswego faculty and staff. Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell will present a jazz-themed session, including a tribute to Michael Jackson, starting at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., Magdalena Rivera will showcase Ritmo Latino styles, while Barbara Streets will demonstrate Motherland Movements from Africa at 8 p.m.

Friday’s activities will include a performance by the Holmes Brothers at 7:30 p.m. in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. The siblings play originals and eclectic covers flavored by gospel-influenced rhythm and blues. Their most recent record, “State of Grace” featured guest performers including Levon Helm, Joan Osborne and Roseanne Cash.

The final day, Saturday, Sept. 19, will include a dinner at 4 p.m. in the Hewitt Union ballroom with guest speaker Angela Douglas addressing the “Bridges Out of Poverty” program. Cost of dinner is $5, with tickets available at the Campus Center box office. The ALANA Fashion Show featuring DJ Kulcha will begin at 8 p.m. in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

Student groups and members of the SUNY Oswego campus community also will present workshops, talks and food sampling throughout the week.

Other than the dinner and the performance by the Holmes Brothers, all events are admission-free. Tickets to the Holmes Brothers concert cost $15 ($12 for seniors and children, $7 for SUNY Oswego students) and are available through Tyler box office at 312-2141 or

For more information about the ALANA conference, visit its schedule page or call 312-5420.

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(Posted: Sep 02, 2009)

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