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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Playwright Wows Crowd at Ford Center Monday, Feb. 28

from the Daily Mississippian by Charles Robinson

Even though the Ford Center was packed last night as the University closed out Black History Month, only one person could truly be heard.

The black woman spoke slowly and softly as the audience sat below like grandchildren at story time. Author and playwright of many works including “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” Ntozake Shange was the special guest speaker of last night’s Black History Month keynote. Following the event, Shange signed copies of her books in the foyer of the Ford Center.

The event kicked off at 6 p.m. with welcoming speakers Provost Morris Stocks, Ulysses “Coach” Howell and Associated Student Body president Virginia Burke.

Donald Cole, assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor concerning minority affairs, then presented the 2011 Black History Month “Lift Every Voice Award.” This year’s recipient was Kirsten Dellinger, chair of sociology and anthropology.

“I have personally witnessed her passion for equity manifest itself with tears as she literally cried to promote programming that would diversify this university and ensure its respectability before the rest of the nation,” Cole said.

Cole then introduced Shange, and she read from many of her narrative style poems, of which she covered topics from AIDS awareness to love and taking care of one’s self.

“I liked to hear it coming from her own mouth,” freshman Lovetta Oguhebe said.  “I liked to get the true feeling of it.”

The event closed with Ethel Young-Minor, associate professor of English and African-American studies, interviewing Shange, as the keynote speaker kept the crowd laughing with her dry humor and confidant attitude. When Young-Minor presented her final question, asking if Shange would like to leave the audience with any words in particular, Shange had something in mind.

“Whatever your wildest dream is, it is possible.”