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Wabruda sponsors conference

Katie Peralta | Friday, February 22, 2008

In observance of African-American Heritage Month, the Notre Dame student group Wabruda will sponsor the first-annual Black History Conference this weekend.

Wabruda, named Notre Dame’s club of the year for 2006-07, means “brother” in Swahili. The club has been around for about seven years and has grown to 20 members, said William David Williams, who has been president of the club for the past two years.

The group aims to promote brotherhood in the Notre Dame black community through professionalism, community service and intellectual elevation, Williams said. It also works to prepare its members for success after Notre Dame by educating them about the need for more black men in corporate America.

Williams said service is an important part of the club’s mission and has included such efforts in the past as a Black History Month presentation at the Robinson Community Learning Center and playing bingo with seniors at Healthwin Center.

“When you give back to the community, it makes you better as well,” Williams said.

Another defining aspect of the group is that members dress in shirt and tie the first class day of every month.

Wabruda also promotes unity between its members, Williams said, adding that he has become close with many other men in the group.

“I have been very encouraged by the unity of this group,” he said. “We want to bring all kinds of people together,”

Williams said he hopes to attract people of all ages and races to the conference.

“Black history is American history. It affects everyone, and we all have a lot to learn about these issues,” he said.

The weekend’s events aim to educate audiences about black history and how it has affected the lives of African Americans today.

“[The events] give homage to our ancestors,” Williams said.

The group encourages members to come together to share its experiences, differences and commonalities. Williams said the group’s advisor, Dr. G. David Moss plays an integral role in the life of the club, and spends much of his time advising members.

“He is really passionate about our mission,” Williams said.

This weekend’s conference not only aims to promote understanding and appreciation of African American history, but also to unite faculty, staff and students from all of the University.

“If we are going to solve American problems, we have to come together to learn. It’s like what they say in [Notre Dame] football – together as one,” Williams said.

The club has organized several weekend events, which include three lectures Saturday morning and afternoon, which are to take place in the Jordan Hall of Science.

The first, featuring Reginald L. Robinson, a visiting Professor of Law and Critical Theory at Southern Illinois University, is entitled “Wake up! It’s a Bleeping Con: Reawakening the Great Potential of Black Americans.”

The second lecture will focus on African American history during the Civil War era. It will feature Verge “Brother Sage” Gillam, founder of the Association of African American Role Models (AAARM), and is titled “Underground Railroad.”

In the third lecture Bishop Gideon Adjei, founder of Crystal Horizons Investment, will give a talk titled “Vision for Victory.”

Saturday’s activities will commence with a performance at Legends by spoken work artist Taalam Acey, from 10 p.m. until midnight.

The conference will take its activities off the Notre Dame campus Sunday for a day of immersion in black history in several historical sites in southern Michigan, including a visit to the Underground Railroad Cemetery in Vandalia, Mich., a family farm in Paw Paw, Mich., and the Sojourner Truth statue in Battle Creek, Mich.