A new cultural exploration series called “Roots of America” has been launched in Oak Ridge to educate the public about the achievements and challenges of various ethnic groups that have made America strong.
The four presentations are free.
To help kick off Black History Month on Friday, John Fleming, immediate past director of the National African American Music Museum in Nashville, will speak on the “Roots of American Black Music and Its Influence on American Culture.”
He will give his lecture at 5:30 PM at the Y-12 New Hope Center, 602 Scarboro Road. The doors open at 17.00 for a reception for the speaker. Light food will be served.
The presentations are hosted by a partnership between the Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning (ORICL) and the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club (ORBRC). The partnership leaders hope that the free lecture series will promote unity among our society’s diverse groups of people.
According to Jim Palmer, co-chair of the partnership with Ruby Miller, “This program is intended as an opportunity for us to better understand people we have learned are different from us by learning about their tribulations and triumphs, both as personal experiences and on cultural level. This is an opportunity to hear ‘their’ stories in their own words and be enriched by interactions with them.”
Fleming will talk about the roots of African American religious music in Africa, how African American music originated as black music during slavery, how black music evolved in the post-Civil War era from slave songs to spirituals to gospel music, and the impact of African American music on traditional white religious music.
Fleming was the founding director of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center and was involved in the development of six other museums. They include the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and the National Museum of African American Music.
He was appointed by President Bush to serve on the Commission of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
Fleming is the author of “The Lengthening Shadow of Slavery,” “The Case for Affirmative Action for Blacks in Higher Education” and “A Summer Remembered,” his memoir of growing up in North Carolina in the 1950s. He is currently writing a memoir about his Peace Corps experience in Malawi.
He holds master’s and doctorate degrees in American history from Howard University.
Here are the plans for the remaining lectures set for March, April and May, which start at 17.30 after a reception with food at 5:00 PM in the Pollard Technology Conference Center at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, 210 Badger Ave.
On Thursday, March 9, Lavita Hill, a Cherokee, will speak about the proposal approved by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribal Council to change the name of Clingman’s Dome to Kuwohi. This peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was named in 1859 for North Carolina senator and Confederate Brigadier General Thomas Lanier Clingman.
On Thursday, April 20, Special Agent Martha Manuel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will speak on “Roots of Hate Crimes in America” focusing on ethnic and religious persecution. Hate crimes against Asian, Black, Jewish and LGBTQ people have increased in recent years.
On Thursday, May 23, the final “Roots of America” presentation of the year will be a panel discussion on “Roots of Immigration.” Current local and national Latino immigration issues will be highlighted by Madeline Rogero, former mayor of Knoxville; Claudia Caballero of Centro Hispano, Patricia Robledo of Knoxville Schools and Arlene Amarante of Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law.
The sponsors of the “Roots of America” series are ORNL Federal Credit Union and Rotary District 6780.