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"The Noose as an American Nightmare" Panel Discussion at WIU-QC February 19

February 13, 2008

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - "The Noose as an American Nightmare," the topic of an interdisciplinary panel discussion by Western Illinois University and Black Hawk College faculty, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the Martin Luther King Community Center, 630 9th Street, Rock Island.

The event, which is being held in observance of Black History Month, is open free to high school and college students, as well as community members. Refreshments will be served following the discussion.

The panel comes on the heels of what appears to be an upsurge of racist propaganda made visible around the country in the form of flyers, graffiti and nooses hanging from the backs of trucks and from trees, according to Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah, chair and professor of Western Illinois University's African American studies department.

Na'Allah cited the Jena Six case from December 2006 in which six Black students were jailed and thousands marched the streets of Jena, LA, in protest. More recently in the news are reports of noose-related hate crimes at institutions including Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Coast Guard Academy.

"Given what seems to be a rise in race-related incidents around the nation, it is crucial that academia at the nation's college and universities become involved," Na'Allah said. "Awareness among students and community members must be raised about what has come to be an unspoken national debate.

"The purpose of the panel is to openly discuss these issues using scholarly tools from the panelists' respective areas of expertise," he added. "Our goal will be to bring understanding and clarity to students and faculty that will lead to even greater dialogue in reference to current issues involving race."

Na'Allah said, "A central question is, 'How are we all impacted by this trend toward past injustices once inflicted upon people of color in the legal system, through media reporting, public policy and more?'"

Panelists will be, from Western Illinois: Peter Cole, associate professor, history; Nancy Kwang Johnson, assistant professor, and Jo-Ann Morgan, associate professor, African American studies; Pearlie Strothers-Adams, associate professor, English and journalism; and Tammy Werner, instructor, sociology; and from Black Hawk College: Willie Seward, coordinator of academic excellence.

An audience discussion, led by WIU Associate Vice President for Student Services Earl Bracey, will be held after the panel presentation. Na'Allah will serve as the program's moderator.

Co-sponsors of the event include the WIU-Quad Cities Black Student Association and Student Government Association and the Positive Brothers & Sisters of Diversity, Inc.

For more information, or for individuals with a disability that may require accommodations in order to fully participate in this activity, contact the WIU African American studies department, 309/298-1181.

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