Press Release: "Souls of Black Folk: A Centennial Celebration" to Premiere at Graduate Center Stars Featured in Dramatic Readings of Du Bois's Classic Work

Danny Glover, Phylicia Rashad, Jeffrey Wright, and Robin D. G. Kelley will be featured in a premiere performance of dramatic readings from W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk at the CUNY Graduate Center on Monday, April 7, at 7:30 pm. Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the publication of Du Bois's great American classic, the program is being presented by The Graduate Center's Center for the Humanities as a benefit for the TransAfrica Forum. Tickets range from $25 to $100 and can be purchased by calling 212-817-8215. The Graduate Center is located at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street.

Commissioned by the Center for the Humanities, under the direction of Distinguished Professor David Nasaw, the readings have been adapted for the stage by playwright Thulani Davis and produced by Gwen Gilliam, associate producer of Harlem Song. The production will subsequently be performed by a different cast at the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta this summer. "The Souls of Black Folk is a classic of American and African-American literature and a book like no other," said Professor Nasaw. "It presents--in dramatic form--the voices of America at the turn of the 20th century: the Baptist preacher, the story-teller, the social scientist, the New England spiritualist/transcendentalist, the progressive, the Chautauqua lecturer; Du Bois was all of these and more."

W. E. B. Dubois was born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A natural and gifted intellectual, he began his studies at Fisk University in Nashville, where he first confronted in person the major injustices and discrimination toward his race. With help of a scholarship, he entered Harvard as a junior, was an outstanding student, and in 1896 became the first black American to earn a Ph.D. there. He went on to pursue a career as a sociologist, author, and leading champion of freedom and justice for black people in the first part of the 20th century. Building on the divided nature of his own experiences, Du Bois offers The Souls of Black Folk (1903) as a primary text in the study of social theories of race and class. In 1961, he renounced his U.S. citizenship and moved to Ghana, where he died in 1963.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, "history cannot ignore W. E. B. Du Bois because history has to reflect truth and Dr.Du Bois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded disclosed the great dimensions of the man." The TransAfrica Forum serves as a major research, educational, and organizing institution for the African-American community offering constructive analyses of issues concerning U.S. policy as it affects Africa and the diaspora in the Caribbean and Latin America. A center for activism focusing on conditions in the African world, they sponsor seminars, conferences, community awareness projects and training programs.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York. The only consortium of its kind in the nation, The Graduate Center draws its faculty of more than 1,600 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges and cultural and scientific institutions throughout New York City.

Established in 1961, The Graduate Center has grown to an enrollment of about 3,500 students in 31 doctoral programs and six master's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The Graduate Center also houses 28 research centers and institutes, administers the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, and offers a wide range of continuing education and cultural programs of interest to the general public.

According to a recent National Research Council report, more than a third of The Graduate Center's rated Ph.D. programs rank among the nation's top 20 at public and private institutions, nearly a quarter are among the top ten when compared to publicly supported institutions alone, and more than half are among the top five programs at publicly supported institutions in the northeast.

Submitted on: JAN 1, 2003

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