Cultural Awareness Series

The 23rd Annual

2016-2017 Cultural Awareness Series

Over the past 23 years, the Cultural Awareness Series has grown more successful and has become highly anticipated thanks to your continued support.  We invite you to join us for a new and exciting year.  The speakers and performances scheduled for this year’s Cultural Awareness Series aim to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of diversity in race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, and culture.

The James Farmer Multicultural Center strives to honor the late Dr. James L. Farmer and to keep his legacy alive.  Dr. Farmer was a dynamic civil rights leader and advocate for social change, and we hope that the Cultural Awareness Series helps members of the Mary Washington family and surrounding community to appreciate all aspects of diversity.

The James Farmer Multicultural Center believes that one way of educating about culture is through the arts.  Arts allow individuals to see culture through a fresh lens.  Artist Abby Willowroot said it best; “Art speaks the soul of its culture.”  By highlighting the distinctiveness of culture through such media as poetry, theater, music, food, literature, and dance, the James Farmer Multicultural Center hopes to help students grasp new and meaningful concepts about culture.

As the world becomes increasingly globalized, we hope that the programs in the Cultural Awareness Series open minds among all individuals to appreciate our differences and commonalities.  We also hope that our programs will encourage dialogue about these topics.  The programs in our series are collaborative partnerships.  Thanks to the offices acknowledged in this brochure, we are able to sponsor this inspiring line-up of authors, performers, pioneers, and activists.  We thank you in advance for considering this invitation to join us in celebrating diversity.

With best wishes and kind regards,

The James Farmer Multicultural Center Staff

Latino Identities Month Keynote Speaker:  Antonio Gonzalez
Tuesday, September 27, 7:00 p.m., Digital Auditorium, Hurley Convergence Center (HCC)

Antonio Gonzalez1

Antonio Gonzalez is President of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP). SVREP, founded in 1974, is the largest and oldest non-partisan Latino voter participation organization in the U.S. Gonzalez and SVREP have been central figures in the dramatic growth of Latino political participation across the nation. Gonzalez was the central architect of the Latino Vote USA (1996), Latino Vote 2000, Campaign for Communities and the Ten-Four Campaign (2004), Movimiento 10-12 (2008) and Latino Vote 12N12 (2012) campaigns that mobilized record numbers of new Latino voters across the U.S.

During Gonzalez’ tenure, SVREP has helped to nearly triple Latino registration, from 5.4 million in 1994 to 13.7 million registrants in 2012, and increased Latino voting from nearly 5 million to over 11 million during the 1994-2012 period.

In 2006 thru WCVI Gonzalez founded the National Latino Congreso an annual gathering of thousands of Latino organizations dubbed “the policy and politics convention of the US Latino community.”  Gonzalez has lectured and written on U.S. Latino voting behavior, as well as Latino participation in U.S.-Latino America policy. He currently appears as a regular commentator on the Public Radio International’s Tavis Smiley Show and Univision Radio’s Ruben Luengas Show, and has hosted since 2004 his own weekly drive time radio show on Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles called “Strategy Session”. Time Magazine named Gonzalez in August 2005 one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America.


Kavindu Ade is a 24 year old Wordsmith, Jedi, and Black Boy Extraordinaire. Born in Brooklyn, NY to Afro-Caribbean immigrants his poetry is a dance between cultures. While best known for his gender identity poem entitled “IT,” Kavi’s work centers on his navigation of intersecting identities – among those, the relation of his Blackness to his transcendence of gender. Through his poetry the world unfolds itself into moments of cruelty, but also beauty, wonder, and becoming. Kavi has been performing since 2009 when he made his debut into the spoken word scene at Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. After two consecutive years competing on the international stage Kavi went on to coach the Philly Youth Poetry Slam Team that competes at BNV. He is also the coach of Temple University’s Slam Team. Kavi has performed at conferences from Vancouver, Washington to Saint Paul, Minnesota, and has had the pleasure of gracing the stage at Grinnell College, Rutgers University, Ursinus College, and Clark University among others. Off stage, he is probably in his room enjoying a good bowl of cereal, binge watching detective shows, or posting his best attempts at immaculate selfies.

Asian Cultural Celebration Keynote Performer: Pilipino American Cultural Arts Society Dancers (Canceled!!)

Sunday, October 30 | 3 p.m. | Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall

PACAS is the popular acronym of the Pilipino American Cultural Arts Society, Inc. PACAS is based in Maryland although its membership expands to the Washington, DC metropolitan area. PACAS is comprised of families of diverse ethnicities. The major focus of the organization is the youth ranging in ages from 5 years and above. PACAS came about from a request by the committee of the 1980 White House National Conference on Aging for the Filipino Community to entertain the conference participants. The debut was such a resounding success that it created an energizing impetus which propelled the parents to formally establish PACAS. Their prestige as a performing arts group is recognized in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and beyond. They have performed widely across the country at various universities, agencies and organizations, including the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Taste of Asia

Saturday, November 5, 6:00 p.m., The Chandler Ballroom, University Center

Co-sponsored by the Asian Student Association.  For cost information, please contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center.

taste of asia

Taste of Asia is an annual celebration of Asian culture.  This event educates the community about different aspects of Asian cultures and lifestyles through a fashion show, dance performances, and a variety of ethnic foods.


Jewish Cultural Celebration Keynote Speaker: Chef Todd and Ellen Kassoff Gray
Monday, November 7, 6:00 p.m., Chandler Ballroom, University Center

Todd and Ellen. JCC

Chef Todd C. Gray & Ellen Kassoff Gray opened Equinox in 1999 to showcase their shared passion for food and hospitality that truly makes a difference within Washington D.C.’s vibrant culinary community. Combining their restaurant expertise with philanthropy has also been a cornerstone of Todd and Ellen’s philosophy, advocating for sustainable agriculture and fisheries and for humanely raised animals, while also supporting numerous charitable events such as the Human Rights Campaign’s Chefs for Equality and creating Sugar & Champagne (now PawFest) to benefit the Washington Humane Society to the tune of some $800,000 in its first 13 years. The two also expect their staff — over 120 employees, many who have been with them since the beginning — to make a difference in the community and choose to lead by example, including being recognized by the White House for their dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles for elementary students and their families as a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program. Todd and Ellen’s first cookbook, The New Jewish Table, tells the story of how the couple melded their culinary and personal lives to create new and meaningful family traditions.


Native American Cultural Keynote Speaker: Daniel Tramper, Cherokee Hoop Dancer
Thursday, November 17, 7:00 p.m., Chandler Ballroom, University Center

daniel tramper 1

Three-time World Hoop Dancing Champion Daniel Tramper, of the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina and the Chippewa-Cree Nation, has been in the entertainment industry business for over 30 years. He is founder of the dance troupe NATIVE MOVEMENTS and is one of the original members of the AMERICAN INDIAN DANCE THEATRE in New York. Daniel’s talents extended to Broadway as choreographer for the ever popular musical, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, starring Bernadette Peters & Tom Wopat. Daniel has performed on Public Television, and throughout the world, including Italy, Israel, Finland, the Middle East, Europe, Japan & Australia.  Career highlights include featured performances in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and at the World Cup Soccer Tournament in Dallas Texas.


Thursday, November 30, 6:00 p.m., Chandler Ballroom, University Center
Co-sponsored by the Black Student Association




As a means of unifying the African and African-American communities, Dr. Maulana  Karenga established Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday celebrating and honoring African culture and heritage throughout the world.  A seven-day celebration, Kwanzaa features candle lighting, pouring of libations, and the culminating feast and gift giving.  Please join us as we partake in the activities and rituals of Kwanzaa and enjoy a feast together.


The University of Mary Washington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Speaker: Attorney Bakari Sellers
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7:00 p.m., Chandler Ballroom, University Center
Sponsored by the Office of the President


Elected in 2006 to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of 22, Bakari Sellers is an attorney, one of the youngest State Representatives, and the youngest black elected official in the United States. Viewing himself not as a politician, but a public servant, Sellers is a passionate keynote speaker on civil rights, equality, education, and faith.

Education has always been a top priority for Sellers. He graduated from the South Carolina public school system and then proceeded to Morehouse College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Morehouse College, Sellers was elected Student Government Association President and, by virtue of his position, served on the College’s Board of Trustees. He earned his juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law and soon entered politics, working for United States Congressman James Clyburn, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, and the Southeastern Regional Director of the NAACP.


Black History Month Keynote Speaker: Maggie Anderson
Wednesday, February 10, 7 p.m., Digital Auditorium, Information & Technology Convergence Center

Maggie Anderson (2)

Margarita Anderson and her family made history and dominated headlines as national media covered their year-long stand in honor of Black professionals, entrepreneurs, businesses and neighborhoods.  The Anderson family lived exclusively off Black business and talent, and bought only Black-made products for an entire year.  This first-time ever real-life case study in self-help economics was called The Empowerment Experiment (EE).  Their experiment resulted in a landmark study which proved how incremental support of Black businesses can improve the American economy.

Margarita, a first-generation Cuban-American, has a BA in Political Science from Emory University, and earned her MBA and JF from the University of Chicago, where President Barack Obama was her law professor and mentor.  Before the experiment, she was an aide to Congressman John Lewis, a Political speechwriter, a corporate and legal strategy executive at McDonald’s Corporation, and a Strategy consultant.  She uses her platform to increase awareness about economic inequalities that starve Black neighborhoods and deny Black businesses, and how the proactive support of Black businesses can create jobs and curb crime in America.


25th Annual Step Show
Saturday, February 18,  7:00 p.m., Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall
Cost: $7 general admission, $5 UMW students, faculty, and staff.


Stepping began in the early 1900s.  Today, the dance form uses the entire body to resonate complex rhythmic beats and sounds.  Join area step teams for this high-energy, entertaining competition.


Women’s History Month Keynote Speaker: Marianne Schnall
Monday, March 20, 7 p.m., Lee Hall, room 411

Marianne Schnall

Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer whose writings and interviews have appeared in a variety of media outlets including O, The Oprah Magazine,, In Style,,, the Women’s Media Center, and many others. Marianne is a featured blogger at The Huffington Post and a contributor to the nationally syndicated NPR radio show, 51 Percent: The Women’s Perspective. Schnall is the founder and Executive Director of, a leading women’s website and nonprofit organization. For nearly 20 years, has been fostering awareness, education, and activism for people all across the world. She is also the cofounder of, one of the oldest environmental websites promoting earth-friendly living.


26th Annual Multicultural Fair

Saturday, April 1− rain or shine | 10 a.m. − 5 p.m. | UMW Fredericksburg campus


Each year, the Multicultural Fair attracts thousands and exemplifies UMW’s commitment to multicultural awareness. The fair provides an entire day packed with entertainment, children’s activities, international and American food, and ethnic arts and crafts.


Islamic Cultural Celebration Banquet Keynote Speaker:  Dr. Safiya Samman
Thursday, April 6 | 6 p.m. | Chandler Ballroom, University Center
Co-sponsored by the Islamic Student Association

Recently retired, as Director of the Conservation Education program of the US Forest Service, Dr. Safiya Samman led an active and wide-ranging program that reaches more than four-million children and their educators each year. Although she has held various challenging professional positions, a strong thread of ‘education’ is woven throughout her 30+ year career.

Dr. Samman received her PhD in genetics, and has worked in the natural resources field for more than 30-years. A focus of her work has been on improving and protecting forest health through genetic principles. As a member of the Pacific Southwest genetic resources program, she was responsible for the development and management of disease resistance breeding and gene conservation strategies for the five-needle pines in California. She is proud to be a pioneer member of the “rust-busters” – a handful of scientists who worked on developing tree resistance to exotic disease white pine blister rust. She also worked on other conifer diseases such as pitch canker.

Dr. Samman is an active member of the Muslim communities wherever she resides. Her Islamic education started as a young girl in Lebanon where she studied with a female scholar in an after school program. She later studied for over ten years in California and then in Virginia for several years at the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America.  Dr. Samman has participated in workshops with Shiekh Hamza Yusuf, and Jamal Badawi.  She started the Islamic weekend school in the Sacramento area which was the beginning of an accredited full time school in Sacramento, In Virginia, from 1998-present, she started Islamic studies and Quran recitation, tajweed, meaning and lessons learned  for sisters and their young daughters.


Tuesday, April 11, 6:00 p.m., Chandler Ballroom C, University Center

For cost information please contact the James Farmer Multicultural Center. Co-sponsored by the Jewish Student Association.

Passover is the Jewish celebratory feast that honors the emancipation of Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Traditionally, Jewish families gather on the first few nights of Passover for dinner and the Seder ritual, in which a family or community retells the story of the liberation.




Suggested Readings

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists. Anchor, 2015.

Americanah. Anchor, 2014.

Ann Bausum

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights. Viking Books for Young Readers, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me. Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

James Farmer**

Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement.  Penguin, 1986.

Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray *

The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes. St. Martin’s Press, 2013.

Kristen Green

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle. Harper Collins, 2015.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta  

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. Penguin Press, 2015

Marianne Schnall *

What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?: Conversations About Women, Leadership and Power. Seal Press, 2013.

Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness and Finding Your Own Voice. Blue Mountain Arts, 2010.

Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.  Little, Brown and Company, 2013


* Cultural Awareness Speaker or Performer

** Late or current faculty member at the University of Mary Washington

Special Thanks

Alter Egos, Asian Student Association, Black Student Association, Black History Month Committee, Brothers of a New Direction, Campus Academic Resources Committee, Center for Honor, Leadership, & Service, Department of Athletics, Design Services, Diversity and Unity Coordinating Committee of the SGA, Eagle Bhangra, Facility Services, Feminists United on Campus, Framar International Living Community, Inter-Club Association, Islamic Student Association, Jewish Student Association, Latino Student Association, Multimedia Services, Office of the President, Office of Public Safety, Office of University Publications, People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual Minorities, President’s Diversity Leadership Council, Simpson Library, Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Student Activities and Engagement, Office of Student Involvement, Student Affairs, Students Educating and Empowering for Diversity, Student Life, UMW Praise Dance Team, University Bookstore, University Police Department, University Relations, Voices of Praise, Women’s History Month Committee, Women of Color.