Cultural Awareness Series

The 22nd Annual

2015-2016 Cultural Awareness Series

Over the past 22 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:  Joe Hernandez-Kolski

Tuesday, September 29, 7:00 p.m., Digitial Auditorium, Information & Technology Convergence Center (ITCC)

Two-time HBO Def Poet Joe Hernandez-Kolski blends spoken word poetry and comedy to create an experience that is hard-hitting, truthful, and incredibly funny. Having rarely left an audience without a standing ovation, he is fervently committed to both entertaining and challenging people with his intimate, cutting-edge performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Hernandez-Kolski is helping shape the dialogue and minds of today’s youth.

As a spoken word poet, Hernandez-Kolski recently opened for John Mellencamp in his hometown of Chicago. He has performed at over fifty colleges and universities around the country. He’s performed his show all over the country, two performances on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.

Based in Los Angeles, Hernandez-Kolski’s credits as an actor include the summer blockbuster Hancock, starring Will Smith, and he recently shot a scene with Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx in The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright (Atonement). He continues to host Downbeat 720, an open-mic for high school youth that he co-founded. The televised version, Downbeat Showdown, which he hosted and produced, received the LA Emmy for “Outstanding Youth Programming.”

Tuesday, October 20, 7 p.m., Digitial Auditorium, Information & Technology Convergence Center (ITCC)

Chris_Doucette_GSMA 2015 (2)

If Oscar Wilde and Tina Fey had a baby who read only Calvin & Hobbes comic strips, you’d get Chris Doucette. Chris is the son of a trucker and the first in his family to graduate college. He’s got a blue collar attitude with an ivy league wit. His humor is current, topical, and completely original.In June 2011, Chris won 1st place at the Snubfest Comedy Festival in Chicago. He has written jokes for Emmy Award-winning actor Jane Lynch. He’s been named as a Comedy360 “Comic To Watch.” The Advocate referred to his tweets as “The Best of LGBT Comedy.” He has headlined colleges all over the country and received a standing ovation from the students at Florida Tech. Chris has performed on the largest cruise ship in the world and he was selected as a feature comic at comedy festivals in Asheville, Charleston, Baltimore, Ventura, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and the Women In Comedy Festival. He has performed on FOX and NPR. He made his television debut in 2013 as an extra on NBC’s SMASH, throwing shade at Angelica Huston. He has appeared in The Washington Post, Miami Sun-Sentinel, Metro Weekly, Time Out New York, Next Magazine, New York Post, and the Village Voice. He tours with the “Nobodies of Comedy Tour” produced by Mills Entertainment. His jokes have appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Women’s Wear Daily, The Huffington Post, and more.

Asian Cultural Celebration Keynote Performer: Hope Chinese School Mom Dance Team

Sunday, October 25, 6 p.m., Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall

Hope Chinese 2

When mothers of students at the Washington, D.C.-area Hope Chinese School wanted to socialize and to share common interests, the Hope Chinese School Mom Dance Team was born. Under the leadership of well-known Chinese choreographer and dance instructor Xiao-qin Zheng, the group started with 16 members and has grown to more than 100. They perform Chinese dances including Tibetan Dance, Red Ribbon, Good Life, Yellow Mountain, and The Same Song. “What’s unique about this group is that they are full-time moms and full-time professionals, yet carve out time to practice and perform. It’s the common interest that bring us together.” Member Dana Wang

 Taste of Asia

Friday, October 30, 7 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: Rabbi Charles Feinberg

Wednesday, November 4, 7 p.m., Lee Hall, room 411

Feinberg JCC
Charles M. Feinberg has been a rabbi for 42 years. He has served as a rabbi at Congregations in Madison, Wisconsin, Poughkeepsie, NY, Vancouver, BC, and Washington, DC. Rabbi Feinberg retired from Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. During his career, Rabbi Feinberg has been involved in different social action and social justice issues. He was a leader in the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s. His congregation in Madison gave refuge for 18 months to a Guatemalan family of six who eventually emigrated to Canada. In Poughkeepsie, Rabbi Feinberg was active and became chair of an important social service non-profit agency called Dutchess Outreach. In Vancouver, Rabbi Feinberg became chair of the Multifaith Society. In every community, Rabbi Feinberg has been instrumental in inspiring his congregation to help the poor and homeless.

Rabbi Feinberg was the chairperson of the Social Action Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly for six years. The Rabbinical Assembly is the professional organization of the Conservative Rabbinate. Rabbi Feinberg served on the board and was co-chair of Rabbis for Human Rights and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. Currently, Rabbi Feinberg is the executive director of Interfaith Action for Human Rights, a non-profit that educates Mid-Atlantic religious communities about human rights issues and does advocacy on the state level.

Native American Cultural Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kevin Gover

Wednesday, November 18, 6 p.m., Lee Hall, room 411


Kevin Gover is the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Kevin began as director in December 2007.

Born in 1955 in Lawton, Oklahoma, he is the son of Bill and Maggie Gover, civil rights and Indian rights activists. Kevin left Oklahoma in 1970 to attend St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. He attended Princeton University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in 1978. He then attended the University of New Mexico College of Law and received his juris doctor degree in 1981.


Following law school, Kevin served as a law clerk in the chambers of the Honorable Juan G. Burciaga, United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico. He then joined the Washington, D.C. offices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman, where his practice was limited to representing Indian tribes, tribal agencies, and Alaska Native corporations.

Kevin returned to New Mexico in 1986, where he established a small Native American-owned law firm that specialized in federal Indian law. Gover, Stetson, Williams & West, P.C. grew into the largest Indian-owned law firm in the country and represented tribes and tribal agencies in a dozen states.

His advocacy brought him to the attention of the Clinton White House, and in 1997, Kevin was nominated by President Clinton to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the United States Department of the Interior. He was confirmed by the United States Senate in November 1997 and served in that capacity until January 2001. As the senior executive of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he won praise for his efforts to rebuild long-neglected Indian schools and expand tribal and BIA police forces throughout the country. His tenure as Assistant Secretary is perhaps best-known for his apology to Native American people for the historical conduct of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Upon leaving office, Kevin resumed the practice of law at Steptoe & Johnson, LLP in Washington, D.C. In 2003, he joined the faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and served on the faculty of the university’s Indian Legal Program, one of the largest such programs in the country. He taught courses in federal Indian law, administrative law, and statutory interpretation, as well as an undergraduate course in American Indian policy.

Throughout his professional career, Kevin has given freely of his time, serving on several committees of the Federal Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He has served as well on a number of non-profit boards, including the Southwestern Association for Indian Art, Futures for Children, and the Grand Canyon Trust. He has also served on the boards of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and the Salt River Development Company, an enterprise of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.


Thursday, Dec. 3, 6 p.m., Faculty/Staff Dining Room, Seacobeck Hall
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: Donzaleigh Abernathy

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 7 p.m., Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall

Sponsored by the Office of the President


Donzaleigh Abernathy was born in the midst of the American Civil Rights Movement to Mrs. Juanita Jones and Reverend Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, who created with their best friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a nonviolent social movement which changed the course of American History. Ms. Abernathy’s in-depth knowledge and participation in all of the major Civil Rights Marches as well as witnessing integral decisions being made that helped to shape American laws and society make her a powerful voice in today’s discussions on race and equality.

Ms. Abernathy was given the distinguished honor of introducing Rosa Parks at one of her last public appearances for the 45th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott Banquet. She also introduced Coretta Scott King and Dawn Steele, the first female President of a Motion Picture Studio for the Women’s Federation for World Peace.

In 2004, Ms. Abernathy’s first book, Partners To History, Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and the Civil Rights Movement, was nominated as one of the “Best Books for Young Adults” by the American Library Association. Later, Emory University’s Brave New Works Project produced her screenplay, in which she starred based on a chapter in her book.

For four years, Ms. Abernathy starred in Lifetime Television’s critically acclaimed series, Any Day Now, weekly portraying a character from age thirty and age seventy. Television audiences may also know her from her recurring roles on the series, The Walking Dead, Lincoln Heights, Dangerous Minds, House, 24 and Amazing Grace.

Ms. Abernathy received the 2012 Tanne Foundation Award for her work as an Actress and Writer. Ms. Abernathy also gained acclaim from Film Critic Roger Ebert for her performance as “Martha-the slave” in Warner Bros. Studio’s Civil War Epic, Gods and Generals, directed by Ron Maxwell.

She has appeared on various radio and talk shows from CNN, FOX Morning Show (NY), to Politically Incorrect. In addition to her career as an actress, she has worked as Environmentalist, for the Centers for Disease Control HIV/AIDS Awareness Program, Amnesty International, Artists for a New South Africa and served as a Founding Trustees for the New Visions Foundation and the former Vice President of the Board of New Roads Schools of Santa Monica. Her life is profiled in the books No Mountain High Enough and Fearless Women.


Black History Month Keynote Speaker: Rasheed Cromwell

Wednesday, February 10, 7 p.m., Digital Auditorium, Information & Technology Convergence Center


Rasheed Ali Cromwell, Esq. is one of the leading authorities on fraternity and sorority life on college campuses. Through, the Harbor Institute, Mr. Cromwell has provided consulting, and dynamic workshops and keynote speeches for thousands of students and administrators at more than 175 higher education institutions in the areas of Black and Multicultural Greek Lettered Organizations.

Mr. Cromwell currently co-teaches a Black Greek leadership class at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and teaches a fraternal leadership and values series at Howard University in Washington, DC. Additionally he facilitates training for NPHC advisors across the country at a variety of professional educational conferences. He currently serves as editor for his Omega Psi Phi Fraternity graduate chapter, Kappa Psi, in Washington, D.C. and as the parliamentarian for the DC-National Pan Hellenic Council. He also serves on the anti-hazing committee at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida.

He graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. At A&T, he served as Student Government President and Vice-Basileus (President) of the Mu Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

He graduated with a Juris Doctorate from Texas Southern University and later served as a federal law clerk in U.S. Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division). Afterwards, he worked as an attorney at Finnegan & Henderson, a prominent intellectual property law firm in Washington, D.C. He later founded and is currently president of The Harbor Institute.

25th Annual Step Show

Saturday, February 20,  7 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: Nancy Redd

Monday, March 14, 7 p.m., Lee Hall, room 411

Nancy Redd is currently a host on “HuffPost Live”, The Huffington Post’s Webby Award-winning streaming network.

Two weeks after graduating from Harvard University with an honors degree in Women’s Studies, Ms. Redd earned the title of Miss Virginia, going on to become swimsuit winner and top 10 at Miss America. This experience would become the impetus for her two non-fiction award-winning books Body Drama and Diet Drama.

Ms. Redd is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, an NAACP Image Award nominee, a recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award, and the winner of a National Parenting Publications Award for tweens and teens. A sought-after host, speaker, columnist, and media personality, prior to joining “HuffPost Live” as a founding host, she served as the worldwide spokesperson for UbyKotex, worked on The Girls’ Guide to the SAT, and was the spokesperson for Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People for Teen Girls.

Other honors include being named L’OREAL’s Beauty of Giving Young Woman of the Year, one of GLAMOUR magazine’s Top 10 College Women and one of Harvard Magazine’s Top Six Seniors. Ms. Redd also once appeared on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? with Regis Philbin and won $250,000.

Ms. Redd has been featured on E! True Hollywood Stories, NPR, PBS, Inside Edition, CBS’ The Early Show, The Insider, Discovery Channel, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, Forbes magazine, ABC’s Good Morning America, CosmoGirl, J14, and more.

Islamic Cultural Celebration Banquet Keynote Speaker: Dr. Zainab Alwani


Thursday, March 31, 6 p.m., Faculty/Staff Dining Room, Seacobeck Hall

Co-sponsored by the Islamic Student Association

Dr. Zainab Alwani is an Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at the Howard University School of Divinity. She is an Islamic scholar, speaker, researcher, and community activist. In addition to being the first female jurist to serve on the board for the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), Dr. Alwani currently serves as the Vice President of the FCNA. Her research focuses on Quranic studies, Islamic jurisprudence, the relationship between civil and religious law in the area of family and gender, comparative religions, and inter-religious dialogue.

Dr. Alwani has authored and co-authored a wide variety of scholarly articles and books including:  What Islam Says about Domestic Violence; Perspectives: Arabic Language and Culture in Films; The development of Maqasid/objectives of al Shariah in the Contemporary Context; and a chapter in the book Change from Within. Her latest publication is her book titled, Muslim Women and Global Challanges: Seeking Change Through a Quranic Textual Approach and the Prophetic Model.  Her forthcoming publications include scholarly books and articles.

Dr. Alwani received her Ph.D. in Islamic Sciences (Usul Al-Fiqh) and Islamic Jurisprudence from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. Her Ph.D dissertation focused on Islamic jurisprudence: the implementation of the Maqasid/objectives of al Shariah in the American Muslim family. She is a member and a board member of various national organizations including, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights KARAMAH, the Abrahamic Roundtable, and the American Academy of Religion.

26th Annual Multicultural Fair

Saturday, April 9− 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.


Tuesday, April 19, 6 p.m., Chandler Ballroom, 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

Donzaleigh Abernathy*

Partners to History: Martin Luther King Jr., David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement. Crown Publishing, 2003.

No Mountain High Enough: Secrets of Successful African American Women. Conari Press, 1997.

Zainab Alwani*

Muslim Women and Global Challenges: Seeking Change Through a Quranic Textual Approach and the Prophetic Model. Institute of Objective Studies, 2012.

 What Islam Says About Domestic Violence: A Guide for Helping Muslim Families. Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, 2008 ( co-author Salma Abugideiri).

Nancy Redd*

 Diet Drama: Feed Your Body!, Move Your Body!, Love Your Body! Penguin Books Publishing, 2010.

Body Drama: Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues, Real Answers. Penguin Books Publishing, 2007.

James Farmer**

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

Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend. Simon & Schuster Publishing, 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.