What They Said at Sarah Lawrence Last Semester
Yusef Komunyakaa March 12, 2003
Reading Sponsored by the Graduate Program in Writing
Komunyakaa read a selection of his poetry, which treated his Southern childhood and his service in Vietnam, among other subjects.
I went back to Vietnam in 1990 with five other veterans to meet with the Vietnamese Writers Union and establish some dialogue. It took me about 14 years to write about my experiences in Vietnam. I had to write about Vietnam before I wrote about Bogalusa, Louisiana. That’s where I grew up. That’s another battlefield, I suppose.
Yusef Komunyakaa is a professor at Princeton University and a chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. His journalism for a military newspaper during the Vietnam War won him a Bronze Star, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1994.
Stephanie Black April 2, 2003
Screening of the film Life and Debt, part of the Human Geography Lecture and Film series sponsored in part by the Henry R. Luce Foundation, through the Luce Chair in Asian Studies and Human Geography
In Jamaica, one person owns all the cinemas. They play mostly Hollywood movies. He thought Life and Debt would play for one night. It played for four weeks in Kingston, and was sold out every night. I’ve been invited to Brazil, Argentina, South Africa. In Brazil the film showed on the same day the country signed a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Argentina has been destroyed by I.M.F. policies. They followed the I.M.F. to a T. You spend a dollar there, and you feel like you’re stealing. People from many different places come up to me and say, “This could’ve been filmed in my country.”
Documentary filmmaker Stephanie Black, winner of a Sundance Film Festival grand jury prize, teaches a documentary workshop at Y/FVA in New York City.
James Loewen April 9, 2003
“How History Keeps Us Racist and What to Do About It,” sponsored by the Women’s History Graduate Program
Lincoln said, “I want God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.” Kentucky sent 35,000 men to the Confederate army. It sent 90,000 to the United States Army, and Kentucky did not secede. Today Kentucky has 74 Civil War monuments. Two are for the United States and 72 are for the Confederacy. A Confederate landscape helps make for a Confederate heart. You can understand what a Confederate heart means for race relations.
James Loewen taught race relations for 20 years at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong.
Sally Armstrong April 24, 2003
“Silence is Consent: Lessons from the Women of Afghanistan,” sponsored by the History Department
The Taliban hijacked a religion in the name of political opportunism. There’s no place in the Koran that says a woman can’t go to school or has to cover her face. These guys were making it up as they went along. A woman was married in Kabul on the Saturday before the Taliban arrived on September 27, 1996. Like many women, she’d gotten a manicure for her wedding. After the Taliban came she obeyed all their rules, like wearing a burka and not leaving the house without a husband, brother or son. But she didn’t remove the manicure. When they saw that, they put her hands down right on the street, splayed her fingers and chopped off her fingertips. This is who was ruling Afghanistan while the world looked the other way.
Sally Armstrong is an author, documentary filmmaker and human rights activist. Her book Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan was published in January 2003.