Ashland University Sets Spectrum Arts and Lecture Series for Spring Semester
The Spectrum Arts and Lecture Series at Ashland University will hold a series of events for spring semester of 2010.
Spectrum will open the semester with events titled “When Push Comes to Precious: The Novel, The Film, The Reality,” which deals with the New York Times bestseller “Push” and its adaptation to the big screen as the highly praised film, “Precious,” produced by Oprah Winfrey and Lee Daniels.
These events will begin on Feb. 5 and 6 with the showing of the movie, “Precious.” The showing, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium. Limited seating is available for these events.
On Feb. 9, Sapphire, poet and author of The New York Times bestseller “Push,” will speak about her experiences and then present a question-and-answer session followed by a book signing. The question-and-answer session will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Room of John C. Myers Convocation Center. The cost for this session is $10 for general admission, $2 for Ashland University students with I.D. and $8 for Ashland University faculty and staff.
Co-sponsors for that program are Ashland Center for Nonviolence, Ashland University Bookstore, and the University’s Black Student Union, Minority Student Services and the Department of Student Life.
“Push” follows Claireece Precious Jones, an overweight teenager living in Harlem who endures being raped by her father, having his child, contracting HIV, and being physically and psychologically abused by her mother.
Sapphire was born Ramona Lofton in 1950, the second of four children. Her father was a U.S. Army sergeant, her mother a former nurse with the Women's Air Corps. When Sapphire’s father wanted to move to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, her mother refused to go and eventually fell into a spiral of alcoholism.
After high school, Sapphire attended San Francisco City College with plans to enter medical school, but the high cost of tuition prohibited her from following that dream. She soon became involved in the Bay Area's freewheeling counterculture scene, and adopted her pseudonym, Sapphire. This radical era for her also included forays into the black power movement and drug use, but she also began writing poetry and performing public readings of her work.
In 1977, Sapphire moved to New York City with $20 to her name. She planned to become a writer, but instead wound up working as a go‐go dancer and prostitute around Times Square. Soon after, she began working toward a degree in modern dance at City College of New York, and after graduating took jobs as a reading teacher and mediator.
After losing her brother, mother, and several friends during the 1980s, Sapphire re‐examined her past. Group therapy helped Sapphire undo some of the damage of the past, "but the art is where I let it come out," she explained, "Had I not been able to write, I think I would have lost my mind." For more information on this speaker, please visit www.apbspeakers.com.
The next Spectrum event will be held Feb. 23 when Tom Leyden, a former neo-Nazi white supremacist activist and recruiter who is now teaching tolerance, will present a program titled “Turning Away from Hate.” This program will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Room of the John C. Myers Convocation Center. The cost is $5 for general admission, $1 for Ashland University students with I.D. and $3 for Ashland University faculty and staff.
The co-sponsors for Leyden include Ashland Center for Nonviolence, and the University’s Black Student Union, Minority Student Services and the Department of Student Life.
After 15 years as a neo‐Nazi white supremacist activist and recruiter, Tom "TJ" Leyden experienced a profound change of heart, turned away from hate and began teaching tolerance.
Leyden grew up in a closely‐knit Irish‐Catholic family in Fontana, California. Life began to unravel for him when his parents got divorced, and he began listening to punk rock and venting his rage by slam‐dancing and fighting at weekend concerts. His violent behavior attracted the attention of local skinheads, and soon he started his own skinhead group in Redlands, California, at the age of 15. At 21, Leyden joined the Marines and his role as a leading recruiter, organizer and propagandist for the white supremacist movement increased. In all, he spent more than 15 years as a leader in the neo‐Nazi movement, even marrying a woman deeply committed to the movement and raising two young sons in a hate‐filled environment.
Today, he has turned away from the hatred that defined his life for so long. He is the one of few known former skinheads who has left the movement and retained his own name. He worked for more than five years for the Simon Wiesenthal Center teaching on the culture of hate and the importance in fighting against it. He was invited by President Clinton to be a featured speaker at the White House Conference on Hate, and he has trained at the Pentagon, the FBI, military bases, and for numerous law enforcement agencies. Although he receives regular death threats and must take extraordinary measures to protect himself from his former friends, Leyden is committed to being a fierce advocate for the importance of appreciating the differences in all people, as evidenced in his program, “Turning Away from Hate.”
Tickets for these Spectrum events can be purchased at the Ashland University Box Office in the Center for the Arts, Monday through Friday from 12‐6pm, or by calling 419-289-5125.