To historians, he was an author, a scholar and an activist ahead of his time. And to a group of students on the University's campus, he is an inspiration, a model of what hard work and hardship can bring about. The students, who live in the college house that bears his name, celebrated W.E.B. DuBois and his visions in the first-annual "Souls of DuBois" conference last March. Some house residents said they considered the conference to be the "event of the year," adding that they hope last year's event was the start of a tradition. "It shifted the focus of the college house from here's a bunch of African-American students who want to live together' into a group of students who want to come together with a mission," said House Faculty Master Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, an assistant medicine professor. DuBois was a Harvard graduate and an assistant professor at the University in the late 19th Century a time when few black men and women were even allowed to attend college. At last year's day-long conference, titled "Souls of DuBois: A Celebration of Culture and Achievement," University professors taught seminars focusing on the different aspects of the early civil rights leader's work, including his emphasis on education, his philosophy and his feelings about racism. The conference, named after Dubois' book, The Souls of Black Folk, attracted over 140 people and provided an opportunity for vendors to show and sell art, books and jewelry. Lavizzo-Mourey said last week that the program was designed to educate the University community about DuBois' work, and to bring house residents together. The conference attracted students and administrators from across the University and others from throughout the Philadelphia area. DuBois House Council President Melody Guy said last week that the conference was a bigger success than she had expected, adding that she expects next March's program to be even better. Guy also said that she was proud of the way house members pulled together to organize and run the program. In addition to focusing on DuBois' work, students at last year's conference also addressed current black issues. Wharton senior Isvara Addison-Wilson said the sessions offered her a different perspective of the world she lives in. "We talked about issues that were pertinent to the ideals that W.E.B. DuBois talked about," the house resident said last week. "I was amazed at the diversity of opinion that people had. It really made me think about my own opinions." Addison-Wilson, who worked on a committee which helped to plan the day's events, added that she was pleased to see so many non-residents of the University community attending the program.Comments powered by Disqus
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