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Purdue’s Black Cultural Center to host civil rights leader

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., co-founder, president and CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, will speak Nov. 11 at Purdue University.

His talk, sponsored by Purdue’s Black Cultural Center, begins at 7 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of hip-hop artists, entertainment leaders, education advocates, civil rights proponents and youth leaders. Its mission is to harness the cultural relevance of hip-hop music to advocate education and other societal concerns related to the empowerment of youth.

Chavis, a civil rights leader and a longtime advocate of equal opportunity, also is the president of Education Online Services Corp., a company committed to increasing online higher education among Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other academic institutions of higher learning worldwide.

A native of Oxford, N.C., Chavis started his career in 1963 as a statewide youth coordinator in North Carolina for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Later he became director and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and executive director and CEO of the 1.7 million-member United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice. He also was executive director and CEO of the National African American Leadership Summit. In addition, he was the national director and organizer of the Million Man March in 1995.

Chavis has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from University of North Carolina, a master’s in divinity from Duke University and a doctorate in ministry from Howard University. He has authored numerous books and publications.

“We are really excited to have someone of Dr. Chavis’ caliber visit Purdue,” said Renee Thomas, director of the Black Cultural Center. “We feel he ties in very well to the theme of our fall cultural arts series programs, which is Hip-Hop: A Social and Political Message of Black Identity.”

Thomas said the cultural arts series this semester was an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of hip-hop to American culture.

“Since the late 1970s, hip-hop has steadily gained intellectual credibility,” she said. “A unique feature of hip-hop is its ability to transcend cultural, ethnic, racial, generational and geographic boundaries. It bridges the divide between the academy and the real world and inspires a growing body of scholarly discourse.”

Established in 1969, the Black Cultural Center helps Purdue students better understand African-American heritage and enhances cultural diversity on campus. The center is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

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