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Butler University lectures bring ‘diverse’ audiences

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It’s not everyday, one is able to listen to the ideas of high profile multicultural scholars, dignitaries and personalities such as hip-hip mogul Russell Simmons; actress and poet Dr. Maya Angelou; and author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson among others.

For over 20 years, Butler University has been committed to open communication amongst these individuals and the community through the Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series.

“We really want to develop a sense of awareness and understanding of the differences and similarities among people that live in our community through increased dialogue and cultural interaction,” said Valerie Davidson, director of Diversity Programs in the Efroymson Diversity Center.

Known as the hallmark program, the series partnered with the Office of the Mayor and Indianapolis’ corporate community giving it an extra boost and ensuring quality speakers.

When choosing their annual schedule, each entity gives their input and makes decisions based on diversity in lecture topics, view points, global and community issues and lectures that challenge listeners.

Butler has had a long list of dynamic and iconic speakers, but the newest lecture is said to bring a different type of audience.

On Thursday, Jan. 21, Butler will host Matthew Knowles, president of Music World Entertainment and father and manager of singing sensation, Beyonce; Jeffrey Johnson, social and political activist and BET talk show host; and Sandy “Pepa” Denton, hip-hop pioneer and member of the legendary rap group, Salt-N-Pepa. The discussion topic will be “Hip-hop and Its Influence on Global Culture.”

“That’s one of our goals, reaching out to many constituencies as possible to participate in the series,” said Davidson.

Davidson and her colleagues chose the topic due to the rise of hip-hip and its infectious appeal in areas such as marketing, politics, music and lifestyle – in all cultures. Lecture series brass wanted to use this topic and the speakers to generate ideas on the positive and negative aspects of hip-hop.

Indianapolis hip-hop artist Jason “alpha.live” Wright believes the genre has reached global capacity due to its story of struggle that resonates with all communities. For something that started in the parks of New York City in the late 1970s by impoverished youth looking for pathways of expression, Wright says hip-hop has shifted from a genre of music to a lifestyle.

Furthermore he believes not only is this topic timely but is ecstatic that Butler has taken on the task of tackling this issue and hopes spectators have a deeper appreciation for hip-hop.

“I am a fan of the culture, but I’m also an advocate for hip-hop becoming more scholastic. It does take a certain amount of intelligence and mastery of the English language to be able to put together words in a manner that’s going to move people. Showing there is a more positive, deeper side to hip-hop is incredible,” said Wright.

For more information, call (317) 940-6570 or visit www.butler.edu/diversity.

Here are a few of some memorable Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series guests

Spike Lee Coretta Scott King®

Soledad O’Brien Colin Powell®

Jacque Reid signs up for ‘Pep’ squad

Journalist and media personality Jacque Reid will co-star alongside hip-hop legend Sandy “Pepa” Denton, of Salt-N-Pepa on the new VH1 reality series “Let’s Talk About Pep.”

“It’s not anything like ‘Flavor of Love’ or ‘I Love New York,’ Reid said of how the new series compares to other popular VH1 reality shows. “It’s about four women, single, and dating in New York City. I’d like to think it’s like an urban ‘Sex in the City.’”

The network describes the show, as a comedy following Pepa’s fame as she emerges from several years of romantic and sexual dormancy, brought on by some seriously lousy relationships.

Reid said the show is simply a real take on the trials and triumphs of single women in the city and that she hasn’t had to worry about her credibility as a journalist.

“I play myself,” she said of the “role.” “I’m me so I don’t think that I carry myself in any kind of way that would hurt my career or my credibility as a journalist. I’m just trying something new as I’ve done with so many things that I’ve done in radio and TV.”

In addition to Reid, and series namesake Pep, the show stars sports journalist and model Joumana Kidd (ex-wife of NBA star Jason Kidd) and voice over talent Kali “Kittie” Troy.

The four women are real life friends that directly and indirectly met through church.

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