Toward this end, this year’s Ground Together Interdisciplinary Conference offered increased focus on the creative process and the Black Press, while continuing the general focus upon an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of Black Art and its manifestations in arts institutions, academic institutions, economic systems, etc. Featured speakers included Dorothy Gilliam, Director of the Young Journalist Development Program for The Washington Post; Jabari Asim, Senior Editor of The Washington Post’s Book World; Delores Kendricks, Poet Laureate of Washington, DC; Dr. Thomas Battle, Director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center; and Mrs. Roberta McLeod, Director of the Blackburn Center. The conference was generously supported by sponsors including the Moorland- Spingarn Research Center, the Howard University Bookstore, the Blackburn Center, the Ralph Bunche International Center, and Howard University Press.

     To welcome all voices to the table, Ground Together II organizer, English Department Professor and August Wilson scholar Dr. Sandra G. Shannon, defined the word “art” in broad terms thereby fostering a sense of inclusiveness and embracing perspectives from a diverse body. Howard University Art History Professor Ofari Ansa set a solemn tone for the event with an invocation laden with the tradition of invoking the spirits of the ancestors. Incorporating the principles of “Sankofa,” Mrs. Roberta McLeod‘s discussion of “Howard University‘s Cultural Capital“ allowed the audience to understand better the current “state of Black arts” by looking first to the past. Her virtual tour gave the audience an opportunity to examine this University’s illustrious past--not just in her insistence that the group visit certain buildings on the campus buildings, but also in her documentary on the renown individuals who walked through those hallowed halls. She concluded her virtual walking tour in the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall with an impassioned discussion of the African Burial Ground Project that is currently housed there.

     The morning Keynote Speaker, Mrs. Dorothy Gilliam, Director of the Young Journalist Program for The Washington Post, piqued the group’s curiosity with her address on “The Art of Writing.“ Though it came from a journalist’s perspective, Gilliam’s list of steps that the writer must take in the process of creation had both practical and metaphorical significance for scholars, actors, dancers, and musicians alike. She advised (1) conceptualizing what is to be conveyed, (2) reporting the situation; and (3) organizing the story. Her description of this process presented a practical challenge to the journalist and emphasized the inherent interdisciplinary nature of writing for journalist and artist alike.

 

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May 2000