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K-State Today Student Edition

February 20, 2018

Documentary screening, panel discussion on 'Talking Black in America' Feb. 26

By Karin Westman

Talking Black in America

On Monday, Feb. 26, Walt Wolfram will be on campus to show his new documentary film on African-American English titled "Talking Black in America."

The screening will take place in Town Hall at the Leadership Studies Building at 3:30 p.m. A panel session will follow the screening, concluding at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Wolfram is the William C. Friday distinguished university professor at North Carolina State University and served as executive producer for the documentary. "Talking Black in America" follows the unique circumstances of the descendants of enslaved peoples in America and their incredible impact on American life and language. Filmed across the United States, "Talking Black in America" shares the history and symbolic role of African-American English in the United States.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Charlesia McKinney, English, BA '14; Chelsea Osademe, English, MA '19; Tosha Sampson-Choma, assistant professor of English; and Wolfram.

Mary Kohn, associate professor of English and linguistics, looks forward to sharing Wolfram's expertise with the campus and Manhattan communities.

"Dr. Wolfram is one of the most acclaimed scholars in sociolinguistics, but his most important work has been to place community engagement at the heart of the field," Kohn said. "Over the course of his career, Dr. Wolfram has been a model of how scholars can work with communities to promote a more equitable society. He has, in conjunction with the Language and Life Project, produced 10 documentaries, curated museum exhibits, developed public school curricula, and written several general audience books that reveal the intimate connection between language and culture. We are very fortunate to bring Dr. Wolfram's newest film to campus."

Abby Knoblauch, associate professor of English and composition and director of the program in expository writing, agrees.

"We're so honored to have Dr. Wolfram here to show his new documentary," Knoblauch said. "Anyone interested in race, language, diversity and equality is going to want to attend this event. It's going to be not only illuminating, but inspiring."

While visiting K-State, Wolfram will also lead a workshop for cross-campus tutors at the Writing Center's Spring Totally Tutoring workshop on the topic of "Confronting Linguistic Inequality through Our Tutoring at K-State." Tutors interested in attending the workshop on Sunday, Feb. 25, should contact Cydney Alexis, assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Center, by Friday, Feb. 23.

Wolfram's visit is made possible by support from the College of Arts and Sciences Diversity Lecture Series, K-State Libraries and the Dow Center for Multicultural and Community Studies, and the English department and its track in rhetoric and composition and its Expository Writing Program.

More information about Wolfram's work is available at his university website. For more information about "Talking Black in America," including a trailer, visit the project's website.