Gregory Williams, author of the memoir "Life on the Color Line," visited Clarion University Sept. 18 with a story to tell. Recounting his life as a Caucasian-looking African-American, Williams addressed issues of race and identity from his own unique experience.
As part of the Mary L. Seifert Cultural Series, "The Realities of Race," Williams' spoke about his book, expanding on some of the more poignant episodes of his childhood and discussing his involvement in the fight against civil injustice. Addressing several hundred students in the auditorium of Marwick-Boyd Fine Arts Center, the university stage proved no strange setting for Williams, who served as president at the University of Cincinnati until just recently.
After the speech, Williams took questions from the audience, many of whom had read his book as part of the freshman "common read" program. The author then stayed for a book signing.
"My students have been very enthusiastic about the book," said Dr. Karen Smith, English professor. "I think the topics it raises are timely and interesting to them, but I also think having the one-book community, the roundtables and the speaker really makes this a memorable experience."
Williams' speech came after a Seifert series-sponsored roundtable that brought together students and faculty for a two-night discussion of race and diversity. The roundtable, too, centered around "Life on the Color Line." Clarion University faculty members Dr. Brenda Sanders Dédé, Joseph Croskey and Dr. Sandra Trejos presented personal accounts, weighing in on issues of race and diversity. After each address, students and faculty engaged in roundtable discussion, tackling questions that prod at the heart of racism. Groups discussed the definitions of race, whether they felt that racism still exists and the potential pitfalls of cultural "colorblindness."
The next scheduled event in the Mary L. Seifert Cultural Series is an appearance in April by critically acclaimed film director Spike Lee. The Seifert Committee is working to set up on-campus screenings of some of Lee's films to prepare for his visit in April.
The Mary L. Seifert Cultural Series Endowment of the Clarion University Foundation, Inc., was established to provide the Clarion University community with cultural experiences that inspire learning through thoughtful discussions.
Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.