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Released January 24, 2003

AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH OBSERVANCE SET

HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi will commemorate African-American History month in February with a series of special events, including a University Forum presentation and performance by a black musical group.

"Three Generations," a group of three generations of African-American artists representing unique viewpoints of American folk songs and spirituals, will be featured during a University Forum program Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium. The group includes internationally recognized performers Benjamin Matthews, Robert Sims and Kenneth Overton, who will discuss the African-American folk and spiritual music tradition.

"It's going to be a tremendous event for our community," said Southern Miss Music Professor Dr. Kim Davis. "For people who love the whole art form of the spiritual, this is an elevated form of this genre."

The forum program will serve as the annual Armstrong-Branch Lecture, honoring Gwendolyn Armstrong and Raylawni Branch, the first two African-American students to attend Southern Miss. A vocal ensemble performance by the group will follow Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mannoni Performing Arts Center. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for Southern Miss students, and $15 for Southern Miss faculty, staff and seniors 65 and older. Sponsors for Three Generations' visit to Southern Miss include the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Hattiesburg Arts Council, Partners for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"I feel it is highly important, first, that it is a part of our history that's being demonstrated and discussed, and it's something informative to a lot of African Americans who don't know the origin and history of the spiritual," Davis said. "It's informative in terms of our heritage... A lot of times we sing them (spirituals) in church and don't know how they came about. This will be not only informative, but inspiring."

Southern Miss senior Roderick Gilbert, president of the African-American Student Organization, said his group will work throughout February to promote the achievements of African-Americans on campus. "The whole focus is to remind people that African-American history is American history," Gilbert said.

Other African-American History Month events scheduled for the Southern Miss campus include Feb. 3: The African-American Student Organization (AASO) will distribute African-American History Month ribbons, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., R.C. Cook University Union Lobby.

Feb. 12: The Southern Miss History Department and Omega Psi Phi fraternity present "The Black Panther Party: Former Political Prisoners Speak," Southern Miss Polymer Science Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Feb. 19-21: Statewide Unity Summit, Southern Miss campus, sponsored by Southern Miss and the University of Mississippi.

Feb. 27: The Southern Miss NAACP chapter sponsors a march on Kennard-Washington Hall, 12:15 p.m.

For more information about African-American History Month events at Southern Miss, contact the university's Student Activities Office at (601) 266-4403. For more information on the Three Generations University Forum program, call (601) 266-5762.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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