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Thousands hear Cox speak at Wake Forest

Laverne Cox is proud to be a black transgender women, even though she said transgender people face violence and bigotry every day.

“Transgender people can use justice and love today,” Cox said in a speech to about 2,200 people in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University. “People of color can use some justice and love today.”

Cox, 31, who is best known for her portrayal of Sophia Burset on the Netflix television series “Orange is the New Black,” talked about her life and how she copes with being one of the most visible transgender women in the U.S. “I have often carried tremendous amounts of shame about various aspects of who I am,” Cox said.

Read the entire Winston-Salem Journal story here.

MLK would have smiled at the sights at Gospelfest

Wake Forest University holds ninth annual Gospelfest:  In the Winston-Salem Journal’s coverage of Gospelfest, Meghann Evans writes: “If Martin Luther King Jr. had been sitting in Wake Forest University’s Brendle Recital Hall on Sunday afternoon, he would have smiled at the sight — people of various backgrounds and skin tones clapping their hands and tapping their feet to the gospel music. At least, that’s how Maeghan Livingston, likes to imagine King would have responded.”

Livingston is the president of the Wake Forest University Gospel Choir and a junior anthropology major. The Gospelfest was sponsored by Wake Forest’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and is part of a series of events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

Winston-Salem Journal

$6.5 million gift to Wake Forest will boost Magnolia Scholars: Dr. Steven and Becky Scott have committed $6.5 million to further the education of first-generation college students through Wake Forest’s Magnolia Scholars program. The majority of the gift will fund scholarships for students who are the first in their families to attend college. It is the second largest commitment to scholarships by individuals in Wake Forest’s history. Steven Scott said Wake Forest “has long been a place of opportunity” for students, many of whom have been the first in their families to go to college. “Today, Becky and I are proud to honor that tradition and continue our support of first-generation college students through the Magnolia Scholars program,” Scott said.

USNews: Education

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Earth Day Arrives on College Campuses: Rather than cramming a bevy of sustainability-centric initiatives into a single day, some schools are scheduling weeks of events and activities. Wake Forest University, for example, launched “13 Days of Celebrating the Earth” on April 14, allowing students to participate in a multitude of environmentally conscious endeavors, such as a cardboard boat race and tours of local farms and gardens.

The extended schedules give colleges flexibility when coordinating events, and schools hope that a variety of offerings will imprint the importance of sustainability in students’ minds, says Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, director of sustainability at Wake Forest.

“The opportunity is that college students are in a learning mode right now,” says Johnston. “They are learning critical-thinking skills, and the most important thing we need to impart about sustainability is to think critically about all the information that is coming our way.”

Wall Street Journal

TennisMen’s final US Open tuneup moving to N. Carolina: The 48-player event will take place in a new tennis facility on the Wake Forest campus, the U.S. Tennis Association and ATP World Tour announced Monday. It’ll be held Aug. 21-27 and serve as the final warmup before year’s final Grand Slam tournament.

Celebrating A.R. Ammons

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“Single Threads Unbraided,” a celebration of the work of poet A.R. Ammons will be held Nov. 15 – 16 at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library.  The symposium will examine Ammons’ poetry, art and letters as well as his contributions to American culture and the arts.

Twice the winner of the National Book Award for his poetry, Ammons was a 1949 Wake Forest graduate. He was also a prolific painter. Twenty of his brightly colored abstract paintings will be on display in the library in conjunction with the event and will then have a permanent home in the library.

Ammons was a native of southeastern North Carolina, but was, for many years, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Poetry at Cornell University. He died in 2001.

>>Schedule of events

Clothesline Project for human rights awareness

hands-on-world1Members of the community will be painting T-shirts on October 21 to air concerns about human rights violations. The shirts will be hung on Manchester Plaza as part of the Human Rights Clothesline Project.

Students in Patricia Willis’ course on human rights are organizing the event, which is sponsored by the women’s and gender studies program.

“In the U.S., we don’t always understand the importance of human rights work domestically and globally because we tend to reject international law and the necessity for its application in the U.S.,” says Patricia Willis, activist-in-residency in the women’s and gender studies program.

Racial profiling, inadequate housing, unequal schooling opportunities, food injustice, rights of migrant workers, poverty, discrimination against women, and abuse of children are just a few examples of the issues surrounding human rights for people who live in one of the wealthiest democracies in the world, Willis says.

“The Human Rights Clothesline Project is important to the community because it’s not enough just to talk about human rights. We need to really get in there and show people what’s going on in the United States and abroad,” says senior political science major Maggie Ryan. “It’s also an opportunity for people to express their views and frustrations with the current state of human rights around the world and talk about topics that can be difficult to discuss.”

The event is scheduled from 11 am – 2:30 pm. Rain postpones.

Colorful celebration of world cultures

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Steel drums, Brazilian fight dancing, Polynesian dancing and a World Fusion band were part of the World Cultural Festival held on Sept. 17 on Manchester Plaza. Over 700 students, faculty and members of the community joined in the celebration. In addition to the music and dance, food, games and prizes were part of the celebration. This is the second year for the festival, which is co-sponsored the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for International Studies. Wake Forest is home to international students representing over 20 countries.

>>View the photo gallery

Bound by Haiti

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Imagine you’re filming a documentary in a Caribbean country and the ground begins to move beneath your feet. At first, you don’t realize what’s happening until buildings begin to topple and chaos is unleashed. You know immediately that the film you planned has changed dramatically, and your joint responsibilities as journalist and filmmaker have changed. The scope of the disaster makes it clear that you’re capturing an event that will change the lives of the people you’re filming—and perhaps the lives of the people who see your film—forever.

directorsThat’s exactly what happened to Jon Bougher (left) and Roman Safiullin while they were in Haiti filming a story about Aaron Jackson and John Dieubon, two men dedicated to eradicating intestinal parasites and inspiring a new, self-sufficient generation of Haitian children. The January 12th earthquake added an unexpected and devastating component to the story. Directors Bougher and Safiullin, graduate students in Wake Forest’s documentary film program answer questions for this blog about their experiences filming Bound by Haiti. They will also take questions after the “works in progress” screening of their movie on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in Wake Forest’s Annenberg Forum. The event is free and open to the public.

What did you learn during filming of Bound by Haiti?

Jon: As a documentary filmmaker, you must be extremely flexible. No matter what events are in the story – even the drama of an earthquake – it is the relationship between the audience and the characters which makes the greatest impact.

Roman: For me, learning to be patient and willing to temporarily suspend my own beliefs was the biggest lesson of this film — it helped me to overcome my own prejudices and allowed me to learn things I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Technically, what was most challenging about filming?

Jon: We shot in rural parts of Haiti that were hours from Port-au-Prince with no electricity. This and the congested streets of the city made the production process grueling.

Roman: Having to communicate through a translator, we were forced to rely on the tone of the voice, eye movement, body language and other subtle queues during conversations. Once or twice we’d finish a scene thinking we’d captured something substantial, but after reviewing the translated footage during the editing process it turned out to be simple or mundane. At times, it was frustrating.

How long did it take to create the film?

Roman: We made five trips to Haiti over a period of about a year. Between that and the shoots in Florida, NY and LA, we had 66 hours of footage. Jon and I finished a version of the film in about three months and did additional post-production work over the past summer.

What do you hope people who view the film take away from the experience?

Roman: Our film is told from a personal perspective. It has unique footage and because it is longer than most other media formats, it allows the audience to better understand the problems that plague Third-World countries.

Jon: Interest in the developing world should not just be about making financial donations in times of crises. I hope the film encourages people to research small, grassroots organizations that are working to solve the long-term problems in developing countries and support these efforts regularly.

How long will you look at this painting?

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Three seconds? Fifteen? In the mid-19th century, tens of thousands of people entered darkened galleries to view this work, and others like it, by Frederic Church—sometimes spending up to an hour examining one painting using opera glasses to immerse themselves in the foreign landscape.

“The Andes of Ecuador,” painted in 1855, is the focus of the freshmen academic project this year. The painting hangs in Reynolda House, and new students will be touring the museum and viewing the work on Sunday, August 22 from 3:30 through 6 p.m.

This summer, using videos and readings on the academic project website, students learned about…

  • 19th-century theology, psychology and the historic debates about evolution
  • Andean ecology and climate change
  • the economics of art patronage
  • the literary world of the period with works by Thoreau and Emerson
  • how to look at, think about and discuss visual images

…and how to bring all these seemingly diverse ideas to bear on one 4 x 6 foot landscape painting.

“How and what we see and why we see things the way we do is an historic phenomenon,” says Reynolda House Postdoctoral Fellow Jennifer Raab. While incoming students are getting their first taste of a liberal arts approach to education, they may be learning how to focus on one image from a variety of perspectives rather than a variety of images from one perspective—and taking more than a few seconds to enjoy the experience.

Media is invited to cover move-in and orientation events, which begin Thursday, August 19th.