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PCC Observes Birth of MLK, Black History Month, Celebrates 10th Cascade African Film Festival
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. ? An array of cultural events will grace Portland Community College campuses in January and February to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month. All events are free and open to the public, including the centerpiece of the celebration, the Tenth Annual Cascade Festival of African Films.
In honor of the MLK holiday, Sylvania Campus’ student activities program will bring Oregon Rep. Jo Ann Bowman to speak on Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 12:30 p.m. in the upper mall of the CC Building. Sylvania Campus is located at 12000 S.W. 49th Ave.
At Cascade Campus, the celebration kicks off with a performance of the Jefferson High School Gospel Choir at noon on Jan. 19 in the Student Center cafeteria. Light refreshments will be served. The Black Entrepreneurs Fair comes to the Cascade Campus Student Center on Jan. 31 to Feb. 4 to share goods, services and ideas with students and the community. Cascade Campus is located at 705 N. Killingsworth.
At the college’s Rock Creek Campus, 17705 N.W. Springville Road, the Grant High School Gospel Choir will perform on Feb. 2 at noon in Building 3.
James W. Reede, Jr., noted community activist and lecturer, will speak at both Cascade and Sylvania campuses on the topic of Black inventors on Feb. 9. His presentation, "The Best Kept Secret in America: The Genius of the African-American Inventor," can be heard at Cascade Campus at 10 a.m. in Terrell Hall, room 112; and at the Sylvania Campus in the upper mall of the CC Building. On Feb. 12, PCC hosts the uplifting musical experience, the Gospel Explosion, at the Bethesda Christian Church, 109 N. Emerson, 6 p.m. It is the 16th year of the Gospel Explosion, which features 15 to 20 church musical groups. This year, proceeds from ribbons sold for one dollar apiece will be on sale to benefit the PCC Foundation’s Robert Wright scholarship fund. Wright, who had previously organized the event and was president of the Cascade Campus student body, died last year from AIDS.
Womyn with Wings, a choreopoem written by African-American playwright J.H. Chapmyn that celebrates women’s empowerment through the diverse experiences of three women, will be held at all three campuses. The fast-paced performance also includes music and dance. On Feb. 21, the play will be performed at noon at the Sylvania Campus; and at 7 p.m. at the North Star Ballroom next to the Cascade Campus at 635 N. Killingsworth. It will be performed at the Rock Creek Campus at noon on Feb. 22 in the Forum, Building 3.
Ray Winbush, director of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, will speak at the Cascade Campus from 10-11:30 a.m. on Feb. 24 in room 122, Terrell Hall. According to promotional material, "Hip Hop artists have called him a ‘New Jack Scholar’, academics a ‘brilliant intellectual,’ working folks a ‘clear and honest voice on race relations,’ and the media has referred to him as ‘outspoken.’" Winbush says, "People are scared to talk about race. They are afraid to offend, because this is a national agony ? and we have little information other than what the media provides us, which is full of stereotypes."
The centerpiece of PCC’s celebration is the Tenth Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. PCC organizers say this year is expected to be bigger and better than ever. "Because of the festival," says event organizer Mary Holmstrom, a Cascade Campus faculty member, "the college’s library collection of African films is the best in the Northwest. We continue to purchase three to four each year."
Kicking off the month-long festival, PCC will bring famed Ghanian film director Kwaw P. Ansah to Portland. Ansah opens the festival with his film, "Heritage Africa," (1989, 110 min., in English) on Friday, Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m., at Jefferson High School, 5210 N. Kerby (across the street from the Cascade Campus at 705 N. Killingsworth). Also invited to open is well-known musician Obo Addy, who will play traditional Ghanian music with the band Okropong. "Heritage Africa" won the grand prize at FESPACO (Festival Pan African Cinema Ougoudougou), in Burkina Faso in 1989. The film is a riveting exploration of the impact of colonialism in the Gold Coast (the colonial name for present-day Ghana) through its central character, Kwesi Bosmefi, who prefers to be called Qunicy Arthur Bosomfield. The perfect product of colonial education, Bosomfield embraces English culture in all forms. In the process, he abandons his African heritage and all that has real meaning to him. Only after a series of humiliating encounters, does he reclaim his identity and heritage.
The following afternoon will feature a Saturday, Feb. 5 symposium on African filmmaking at Cascade Campus in Terrell Hall, room 122, 2 p.m., with Ansah and Cornelius Moore, director of the African Film Library at California Newsreel in San Francisco, a film distribution company. Ansah’s film "Crossroads of the People, Crossroads of Trade," will be shown.
The remaining 13 films in the festival run the cinematic gamut from satire to documentary to romance and drama. McMenamins Kennedy School is the site of two film showings, a 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 screening of the South African film "Fools,"; and a Saturday Family Film Day on Feb. 19, 2:30 p.m. The Kennedy School restaurant and lodge is located at 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. All other films will be shown at PCC’s Cascade Campus in the Terrell Hall auditorium (room 122). The film schedule with movie summaries and times follows this release. The festival will run through Saturday, March 4. Call the Cascade Festival of African Films Information Line at 244-6111, ext. 3630, for details or a brochure.
The college is offering a Film as Literature course as a companion experience this winter. Taught by English instructor Michael Dembrow on Tuesday evenings at Cascade, it will explore contemporary African film.
This project has been made possible in part by funding from the Oregon Council for the Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Oregon Arts Commission, and McMenamins Kennedy School.