Leaders hold State of Black Union

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February 13, 2007

12:42 PM

A discussion titled “Jamestown — 400 years in Retrospect: A Cross Cultural Look at the First Settlement” kicked off the 2007 “State of the Black Union” series held at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall Friday afternoon.

p. Headed by a panel of historians and professors, including Vice President for the Historic Area Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Rex Ellis, the discussion focused on American Indians, Europeans and Africans of early America.

p. Other participants included notable Princeton University religion and African American Studies Professor Cornel West. The panel discussed the multiple cultural perspectives that make up Jamestown’s colonial history.

p. “We don’t do a service, as historians to the American people, by telling only one little strand of the story,” said Darlen Clark Hine, a professor of history and black studies at Northwestern University and a member of the panel.

p. Subjects approached by the panel were wide-ranging and included slavery, interactions between Virginia’s Indians and English settlers and the role of greed in American history, The Daily Press reported.

p. The discussion, though a prequel to other events, remained a highlight of the series. “This conversation really sets the stage for the conversation we want to have tomorrow,” said Tavis Smiley, host of the “Black State of the Union” conference.

p. History professor and panelist Cassandra Newby-Alexander also expressed optimism in how the discussion could set the stage for a deeper understanding of American history.

p. “I’m hopeful that discussion will begin the process — after 400 years — [of looking] at the realities of our past, not what we want to see, but what truly existed,” Newby-Alexander said.

p. After hosting the panel at the College, Smiley traveled to Hampton University for the “State of the Black Union’s” daylong symposium recorded live on C-Span.

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