Wednesday, September 3, 2008

UIS speaker series hosts multiple events commemorating riot centennial

Five sessions in the ECCE Speakers Series at the University of Illinois at Springfield this fall will commemorate the centennial observance of the city's 1908 race riot.

Programs in the ECCE series are campus-sponsored lectures or other events exemplifying engaged citizenship. The series is also part of the Engaged Citizenship Common Experience, a set of courses taken by undergraduates at UIS to foster appreciation for and practice of diversity and the active effort to make a difference in the world.

All events in the speakers series are free and open to the public.

On Thursday, September 11, James Loewen, author, professor, and expert in race relations, will speak on "Lincoln's Unfinished Legacy" beginning at 7 p.m. in Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library on the UIS campus.

A native of Decatur, Dr. Loewen taught race relations for 20 years at the University of Vermont and was also on the faculty at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases. His book Sundown Towns was chosen as a Distinguished Book of 2005 by the Gustavus Myers Foundation and he is the recipient of an Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship.

On Monday, September 15, the documentary "Springfield Had No Shame" will be shown at 6 p.m., also in Brookens Auditorium.

Written and produced by David Antoine, staff member in UIS' Office of Electronic Media, this film examines the riot through historical photographs, dramatic readings, and re-enactments of original newspaper accounts. Commentary from historians and eyewitnesses is also included.

This event is presented in conjunction with UIS Political Art and the Public Sphere series, monthly programs that consider how 'art' raises provocative social and political questions.

On Wednesday, October 1, "99 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask an African American but Were Too Afraid for Fear They'd Break Their Foot Off in Your A**" -- a multi-media play by Mark Cryer that addresses stereotypes commonly held about African Americans -- will be presented beginning at 7 p.m., in the Studio Theatre, lower level of UIS’ Public Affairs Center.

On Monday, October 13, "What We Want, What We Believe," a documentary about the Black Panther Party, will be shown at 6 p.m. in Brookens Auditorium. In the 1960s and '70s Newsreel Films served as the unofficial recorder of much of the group's activities, and the film has been called "not a documentary so much as living history preserved on film." This program is also part of the PAPS series.

On Thursday, October 23, noted historian and author Dr. Roberta Senechal will speak on "Centennial of Fire" beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Public Affairs Center. Her book The Sociogenesis of a Race Riot: Springfield, Illinois, in 1908 (University of Illinois Press, 1990) received the Illinois State Historical Society Superior Achievement Award in 1991 and the Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in the United States in 1992.

See the complete schedule of speakers and topics for the 2008 fall ECCE Speakers Series, or contact series coordinator Kimberly Craig at 206-6245 or

A variety of other events related to the riot centennial, ranging from an art installation to special podcasts, is planned at UIS throughout the fall semester.