UW Today

March 30, 2011

Poet Elizabeth Alexander to address race and culture April 26

News and Information

It is time, poet Elizabeth Alexander says, for Americans to begin a more nuanced civic conversation about race and culture. After all, she says, America has always been a nation of immigrants. And now our president – a Kenyan and African-American raised in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and Asia — represents the many layers and complexity of American culture.

Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander

Alexander, who wrote and delivered President Obamas inaugural poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” will address these ideas when she speaks at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, in 130 Kane. The talk was rescheduled after adverse weather conditions prevented it being given on the original Jan. 23 date.

Alexander has published several books of poems, including The Venus Hottentot, Body of Life, Antebellum Dream Book and American Sublime; the latter was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and one of the American Library Associations Notable Books of the Year.

Most recently, her first young adult collection (co-authored with Marilyn Nelson), Miss Crandalls School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color won the 2008 Connecticut Book Award. Her two collections of essays are The Black Interior and Power and Possibility, and her play, Diva Studies, was produced at the Yale School of Drama. Alexander teaches at Yale University, where she is a professor and chairs the African American Studies Department.

Alexanders lecture is the second in a three-part public lecture series focusing on the concept of diversity. Hosted by the Graduate School and the Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP), with generous sponsorship by the Mary Ann and John D. Mangels Endowment, this public lecture series features world-class speakers who will share their reflections on diversity in the United States.

The lecture is free but registration is requested.

The third Mangels lecturer is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who will address the Adventures of an Astrophysicist, at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 12, in 130 Kane. His lecture is presented in partnership with the Jessie and John Danz Endowed Lecture Series. Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, is looking forward to what the Obama space plan and the search for life can do to promote a thriving future of space exploration and transportation.

The Mary Ann and John D. Mangels Endowed Lecture Series was established in 1990 to honor the retirement of John D. Mangels, former chairman and CEO at Security Pacific Bank of Washington (now Bank of America). Administered by GO-MAP, the Mangels Lectureship, in cooperation with academic departments and programs, brings to the UW campus minority scholars or individuals whose work focuses on issues of diversity, from a variety of fields for the benefit of minority students, the campus community, and the general public.