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African-American Studies Center hosts diversity forum

Discussion begins at 4 p.m.

Every Tuesday the African-American Studies Center hosts a lecture or a discussion on aspects of African-American history and culture, and organizers of today’s event are hoping that this week’s topic will appeal to students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities, races, and ethnic backgrounds.

Diversity and the Boston University Community: A Student Conversation, will take place at the center at 4 p.m. Planned by CAS African-American Studies Professor Linda Heywood, it is intended to help students from various backgrounds meet and learn from one another.

“We want to be an open forum for discussion and for bringing students together with faculty and talking about different topics,” Heywood says. “It’s out of this sense that bringing students together more might open up the lines of communication.”

The idea emerged after an event held early in the semester — CreoleFest, a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims — drew a large and diverse crowd of students, according to Heywood. More than 100 students attended and participated in an open-mic discussion about how the disaster had affected them. “I was rather pleasantly surprised and elated that so many different students came, and they were all talking,” she says. “I thought this would be a good way of bringing that kind of group together again and talking.”

The weekly lectures typically focus on faculty or student research, and previous topics have included modern-day views of South Africa, public art in Trinidad, and minstrel music. While students have been frequent participants, Heywood says, a forum helps fulfill the goal of making the African-American Studies Center a place where students go to talk about issues and meet new people.

“I don’t sense there’s a conflict or problem about diversity in the student community,” she says. “But an open lively discussion brings things out, and then you have people getting to know each other better.”

The African-American Studies Center is located at 138 Mountfort St. The forum is free and open to the public.