September 1, 2020
Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters
This October, the UW Libraries is partnering with the Albany County Public Library to offer a series of programs to foster an appreciation of African American poetry.
UW Libraries received two grants to celebrate African American poetry and culture
from the Library of America’s Lift Every Voice project and a Wyoming Humanities Council Spark grant.
The events provided by the UW Libraries will all be virtual, free, and available to
residents throughout Wyoming and the region.
Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters is a national public humanities program dedicated to enhancing appreciation of the
extraordinary range and richness of the 250-year-long African American poetic tradition. Its
principal objective is to engage participants in a multifaceted exploration of the
tradition, the perspectives it offers on American history and the struggle for racial
justice, and the universality of its imaginative response to the personal experiences
of African Americans over three centuries.
Mon., Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. | The Historical and Cultural Significance of the Famous Song:
Lift Every Voice and Sing
Live captioning or transcription will be available during each virtual event
Dr. Timothy Askew will discuss the song by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond
Johnson. African American educational, political, and cultural leaders have contributed
to the reception of this song. He will explore the issue of how the song offers a
window in understanding the political and social consciousness of African Americans
in each decade of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries—historically and
Watch on Zoom
Friday, October 9 at 7 p.m. | UW Black Studies Center presents Find Your Voice: Youth
Come tell your story in verse! Enjoy an evening of poetry written by students. Prizes
will be available for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place -- 1st prize of $25 Amazon gift card,
2nd prize of $20 Amazon gift card, and 3rd prize of $10 Amazon gift card. Sign-ups
limited to youth: middle school, high school, and college students. Complete the registration
form to sign-up to participate in the Poetry Slam. Deadline extended: Thursday, October
8 at 8 a.m.
Participant Registration Form | Deadline extended: Thursday, October 8 at 8 a.m.
Sun., 10/11 - Sat., 10/17 | Albany County Library's Lift Every Voice Children and
Young Adult programs
Watch on Zoom
Thursday, October 15 at 2 p.m. | Café of Poetry Readings
We’ve partnered up with Albany County Public Library to host additional programs in
line with our Life Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters programs. They
will be hosting children’s storytimes featuring books and songs of African American
verse and music. Their teen book club will also be reading the graphic novel March by John Lewis. More information available
at Albany County Public Library.
This is a family-friendly event that harkens to the intellectual salons of the Harlem
Renaissance as well as the musical soirees of the 1920s. There will be readings of
African American poetry, the 1700s to contemporary, along with cultural and historical
contextualizing of the poems. Musical performance by the Laramie High School Jazz
Choir will accompany us throughout the event that will be hosted by Dr. Fredrick Douglass
Tuesday, October 20 at 4:30 p.m. | Poetry Sucks Panel Discussion
Dr. Fredrick Douglass Dixon, Dr. Caskey Russell, and graduate student Nicole Foss
will serve as panel members with moderator Dr. Scott Henkel. This panel will provide
a fun yet educational response to those who believe poetry is hard to read and hard
to understand. Panelists will share their experiences and show audiences how to love
(or at least like) poetry more. This panel also offers those who already love poetry
an opportunity to share their experiences as well. This event will contextualize the
history of African American poetry and foster a better understanding of this genre.
Watch on Zoom
Tuesday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. | Camille T. Dungy Poetry Reading
Award-winning poet, Camille T. Dungy will share her work in a reading. Dungy, who
edited the first anthology of nature poetry by well-known African American poets,
is noted for her own breath-taking poetry that explores nature, love, and African
American survival and is an African American poet in the Rocky Mountain region.
Watch on Zoom
About our performers and speakers: Camille T. Dungy
Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry: Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan
UP, 2017); Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011) winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard
Open Book Prize; Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010) winner of the American book
award in 2010; and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press,
Camille T. Dungy
Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan
Her debut collection of personal essays, Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton,
2017) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. As a working mother
whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille Dungy crisscrossed
America with her infant, then toddler, intensely aware of how they are seen, not just
as mother and child, but as black women. The Kirkus Review noted of this lyrical memoir,
“Each essay flows smoothly into the next, and they are all interlinked with themes
of race, fear, joy, and love, bringing readers eye to eye with the experiences of
being a black female poet, lecturer, mother, and woman. Forthright, entertaining,
often potent essays that successfully intertwine personal history and historical context
regarding black and white in America.”
Dungy is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the
Arts, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, The Diane Middlebrook Residency Fellowship
of the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and other organizations. Her poems and essays
have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems,
nearly thirty other anthologies, and over one hundred print and online journals.
Dungy is currently University Distinguished Professor in the English Department at
Colorado State University.
Dr. Timothy Askew
Dr. Timothy Askew
Dr. Timothy Almon Askew holds a B.A. degree from Morehouse College, Summa Cum Laude
with Phi Beta Kappa distinction as a junior-year inductee. He received a master’s
degree at Yale University. Dr. Askew was an NCEA Doctoral Fellow in the English
Department at the University of South Florida. Pursuing an interdisciplinary degree
in American Studies and focusing on American Literature and American Music, he received his
Ph.D. at Emory University and had the distinction of being the first Ph.D. Marshal
at the University. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 4-year Academic
Scholarship, Morehouse College; Readers Digest Foundation Scholar, Morehouse College;
University Fellowships, Yale University; National Consortium for Educational Access
Doctoral Fellowship, The University of South Florida; University Fellowships, Emory
University; The United Negro College Fund Dissertation Fellowship; Teacher of the
Year, Clark Atlanta University; The N.A.A.C.P. Image Award for Excellence in Teaching
English, Clark Atlanta University; National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar.
Dr. Askew was the Atlanta Public Library “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Centennial Celebration
Speaker at Georgia State University and has been featured in the Atlanta Constitution
and the Houston, Texas newspaper African American News for his research on the song,
“Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Dr. Askew is a tenured Full Professor of English and Humanities at Clark Atlanta University.
He is the Founding President of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at Clark Atlanta University
and a Sustaining Member of Phi Beta Kappa. He is the author of Cultural Hegemony
and African American Patriotism: An Analysis of the Song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
and Refreshing the American Literary Canon, both by Linus Publications, New York.
Dr. Askew is the 2017 C. Eric Lincoln Scholar at Clark Atlanta University, one of
the highest honors bestowed on a professor at the university. On May 22, 2019, Dr.
Askew received the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member at Clark Atlanta University,
the Aldridge/McMillan Award for overall excellence in teaching, research, and service.
Dr. Askew was named a Mellon Scholar, February 2020.
Dr. Fredrick Douglass Dixon Director, Black Studies Center and Assistant Professor of African American and Diaspora
Dr. Fredrick Douglass Dixon
A native Chicagoan, Fredrick Douglass Dixon, is an educator and community advocate.
Prof. Dixon directs the University of Wyoming's Black Studies Center and is an Assistant
Professor in the African American and Diaspora Studies Department. For the past decade,
he has hosted a successful, public-access television program that centers and examines
the accurate history of blacks in America titled, The First Amendment: Historically
Speaking. As his indispensable duty, Prof. Dixon remains devoted to providing successful
pathways for access, matriculation, and graduation for the most at-risk student populations.
His commitment to connecting academia with the broader community includes working
with several national academic and grassroots organizations, including the National
Council for Black Studies and The Black Doctoral Network. A quote from Prof. Dixon
shows his depth and purpose, "The thrust of my existence is to elevate the whole
of the community, particularly black students to higher levels of academic excellence."
Program sponsors and partners:
Laramie High School Jazz Choir