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A special Conference on Women at Lafayette College will feature a panel discussion, a step show, a symposium, and three feature films March 24-26. Sponsored by NIA, a support group for black women, the conference is part of Lafayetteís celebration of Women’s History Month. Events are free and open to the public.

NIA president Tiffany Blakey, a junior from Philadelphia, Pa., says, “The goal of the conference is to show similarities among women. Although it is focused more on African-American women, we’re making a conscious effort to bring in other groups to show that there’s not much difference between African-American women’s experience and that of other women. We want to focus more on unifying, rather than dividing.”

“I’m particularly proud of the members of NIA for taking the initiative to conceive of and plan this symposium,” says Deborah Byrd, associate professor of English and coordinator of Women’s Studies.

The first event is a panel discussion on “Women from a Global Perspective” at noon Friday, March 24, in the Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall. Panelists will be Byrd and four members of Lafayetteís International Students Association, Farisai Maguwah, a first-year student from Zimbabwe; Bejan Romona Adelina, a first-year student from Romania; Sarah Lowery, a sophomore from Missoula, Mont.; and Samaiyah Council, a junior from Anchorage, Alaska.

At 7 p.m. Friday there will be a step show in the Landis Atrium, Farinon College Center.

There will be a symposium from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, March 25 in the Marlo Room, Farinon Center. The topics will be “Women and Leadership” with Lea Williams, executive director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C.; and “African-American Women and Body Satisfaction” with Carol Powell, a doctoral candidate at Lehigh University. A complimentary luncheon will be served from 1-2 p.m.

The author of Servants of the People: The 1960s Legacy of African-American Leadership, Williams describes herself as “an educator by training and experience, a teacher by temperament, and a writer by passion.” She has been vice president of educational services at the United Negro College Fund and an adjunct instructor of English at various colleges in New York City, including City College of New York. Her honors include the Kentucky State University Distinguished Service Award, the Hilda A. Davis Award for Educational Leadership from the National Association for Women in Education, and the Paducah Black Historian Achievement Award in Education. Williams has degrees from Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Among the dozens of articles Williams has written about education is the winner of the 1989 Unity Award in Media for education reporting, “Missing, Presumed Lost — Teachers of Color in the Nation’s Classrooms,” published in Black Collegian.

The conference will include three films depicting the perspectives of Asian-American, Caucasian, and African-American women, respectively, shown in the Limburg Theater, Farinon Center. The Joy Luck Club will be screened at 4 p.m. Saturday, The Women of Brewster Place at noon Sunday, and If These Walls Could Talk at 4 p.m. Sunday.

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