MARQUETTE - The Uniting Neighbors in the Exeperience of Diversity Conference at Northern Michigan University is gearing up for another year. The UNITED conference, which offically begins Sunday, has been taking place at NMU since 2006.
Billed as an "annual celebration of diversity, culture and community," the effort is divided into seven tracks, each which focus on a different aspect - art, dance/music, diversity, film, food, research/scholarship and service.
This year the conference features a number of speakers as a well as musical acts and a connected art show at the Devos Museum.
Step Afrika performs at the Forest Roberts Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The professional company celebrates stepping, an art form born at African American fraternities. (Photo courtesy of NMU)
Kicking off the conference on Sunday is two-time Native American Music Awards winner Keith Secola and members of the Wild Band of Indians with a concert at 8 p.m. in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center. Secola is a master guitarist and Native flute player, singer, songwriter, composer and producer.
Noteable events include a presentation from NMU visiting scholar Jian Sha about the 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan Province of China. In conjuction, the art show at the Devos is displaying work by faculty and students from the Aba Teachers College, which was destroyed during the quake. A reception will follow. Other highlights include musician, songwriter, scholar and activist Derrick Ashong or DNA at 7 p.m. Wedsnesday Sept. 15. Earl Smith, an experst on African-Americans in sports and the sociology of interracial marriage, will present his lecture "Unity Through Sport: The Challenge of the 21st Century," at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 13. Frank Chong of the United States Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education will speak about matching educational programs with student needs at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14. Presentations will also be given by NMU faculty and students on a variety of topics.
On Thursday, Sept. 16, the conference will come to a close with a concert by jazz musicians Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue at 7:30 p.m. in the Kaufman Auditorium.
The conference is free (with the exception of two events, Step Afrika and Trombone Shorty) and open to the public. For more information including an updated schedule, go to www.nmu.edu/united.
Claire Abent can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.