22nd Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium, March 25-28, Examines the Black and Latino Experience in America

March 19, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's 22nd Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights, March 25-28, will feature keynote speaker Ron Kirk, J.D., the first African American mayor of Dallas.

Themed The Powerless Majority: The Black and Latino Experience in America, the symposium will focus on issues related to African American and Latino experiences such as educational inequality, disparities in health care and immigration. Programs will examine the interaction between African Americans and Latinos and how these issues are manifested in those relationships. All events are free and open to the public.

"This year's summit will center on critical issues that greatly impact the African American and Latino populations," said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) at the University of Texas at Austin. "Events such as this provide a forum where ideas can be discussed and solutions explored, which helps cultivate true change and equality."

The symposium is named after Heman Sweatt, the first African American admitted into The University of Texas at Austin's School of Law. The landmark case that allowed Sweatt into the school paved the way for the admission of African Americans to formerly segregated colleges and universities throughout the United States.

"Unique this year is the inclusion of the Latino experience which, along side that of African Americans, is fundamental to any discussion of civil rights in this state," said Dr. Edmund T. Gordon, associate vice president for thematic initiatives and community engagement, a strategic area of DDCE, "Moreover, there is perhaps no issue more important to the future of the state than the evolving relationship between these groups."

Symposium events include:

Tuesday, March 25, 7-8 p.m., Harry Ransom Center Prothro Theater
Opening Keynote: "Beyond Latino/Black Conflict: The Emergence of Latino Stewardship"

Featuring: Dr. Nicolas C. Vaca, attorney and visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Wednesday, March 26, 10 a.m.-noon, Texas Union Eastwoods Room (2.102)
"Blacks and Latinos: Intersecting Histories"

Moderator: John McKiernan-Gonzalez, The University of Texas at Austin
Panelists: Kelly Lytle Hernandez, University of California, Los Angeles; Claudia P. Rueda, The University of Texas at Austin; Gaye Theresa Johnson, noted author

Wednesday, March 26, 2- 4 p.m., Texas Union Eastwoods Room (2.102)
"Black and Latino Literary and Cultural Connections"

Moderator: José E. Limón, the University of Texas at Austin
Panelists: Caroline Levander, Rice University; Hiram Pérez, William Paterson University; Michael Soto, Trinity University

Wednesday, March 26, 7-9 p.m., Jessen Auditorium, Rainey Hall
Theatrical Performance: "Platanos and Collard Greens"

"Platanos" is a thought-provoking romantic comedy that tactfully addresses stereotypes, prejudices and urban myths that exist between African Americans and Latinos. Using satire and the culture of hip-hop, the play impels its audience to evaluate these stereotypes, humorously and poetically exposing them as misrepresentations of lived experience.

Thursday, March 27, 3-5 p.m., Follett's Intellectual Property Bookstore, 24th and Guadalupe
Reading: "From Island to Mainland: Three Authors of the Dominican Diaspora in Texas"
Readers: Angie Cruz, "Let It Rain Coffee"; Nelly Rosario, "Song of the Water Saints"; Ana Maurine-Lara, "Erzulie's Skirt"

Thursday, March 27, 6:30-8 p.m., Texas Union Pearce Hall (2.404)
"The State of Black and Latino Youth: Eco-Apartheid and Mass Incarceration as Public Health Issues"

Featuring: Dr. Antwi Akom, San Francisco State University

Friday, March 28, 10 a.m.-Noon, Texas Union Chicano Culture Room (4.206)
"Fighting Sexism and Homophobia in Black and Latino Communities: A Community Dialogue"
Panelists: Paula X. Rojas, Incite! Women of Color Against Violence; Busi L. Peters-Maughan, CEO/Founder, Women Healing and Empowering Women

Friday, March 28, 2-4 p.m., Texas Union Sinclair Suite (3.128)
"Dialogue on the Politics of Race and Immigration"

Moderator: Dr. Deborah Paredez, the University of Texas at Austin
Panelists: Dr. Nestor Rodriguez, the University of Houston; Dr. Juliet Hooker, the University of Texas at Austin; Luissana Santibanez, 2008 Soros Justice Fellow

Friday, March 28, 7-8 p.m., Thompson Conference Center Auditorium
Closing Keynote: "The Powerless Majority: The Black and Latino Experience in America"

Featuring: Mr. Ron Kirk, University of Texas at Austin School of Law alumnus and the first African American mayor of Dallas

Learn more about the symposium and view a complete list of events and parking information.

For more information, contact:  Deborah Duval, Department of Art and Art History, College of Fine Arts, 512-922-9293.