UT Hosts Black Cultural Centers Conference

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee’s Black Cultural Center and the Association for Black Culture Centers are co-hosting the 13th Annual National Conference for Black Culture Centers here Nov. 6-9.

The theme for this year’s event is “Black Culture Centers: The Foundation of Multiculturalism and Diversity.”

Center Interim Director Denelle Niles said national attention and success of UT’s Black Cultural Center led to this year’s conference being held here.

“The association was looking for an institution with a black cultural center on its campus,” Niles said, “but they also were looking for something new and innovative, and we fell into that category.”

Unique features of UT’s Black Cultural Center, which opened in Fall 2002, include an 80-foot sculptured brick frieze featuring notable figures in African-American history and a ceramic inlaid tile floor that depicts the continent of Africa.

The center houses a library-reading room, state of the art computer lab, student lounge, multi-purpose rooms, student organization suite, conference room, tutorial suites and administrative offices. It also headquarters UT’s office of Minority Student Affairs.

Other universities, such as the University of Illinois and University of Cincinnati, have visited UT for advice on how to establish their own centers, Niles said.

This year’s conference is the first to feature a series of Pre-Conference Institutes. The three sessions are designed to provide a forum and dialogue to learn about creating or upgrading a black culture center.

Niles said about 400 people are expected to attend this year’s conference. Workshops will focus on topics such as black and ethnic studies, black students struggle, campus unrest, blacks in the 21st century and multiculturalism, she said.

The conference will conclude at 9 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 9 with a special Gospel Send Off. The host hotel is the Knoxville Hilton. All events will take place at UT.

The general public and students are invited to attend. For registration, contact Niles at dniles@utk.edu or (865)974-6861. Additional information is at the UT Black Cultural Center Web site at http://web.utk.edu/~omsa/ABCC/ABCCwelcome.html or the Association for Black Culture Centers Web site at http://www.abcc.net/