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Celebrated Author Headlines Anne Frank Project Festival

Celebrated Author Headlines Anne Frank Project Festival

Event Features More Than 20 Interactive Workshops, Performances

Posted: September 26, 2019

Author and activist Alexis De Veaux kicks off AFP 2019: Engage for Change, the college’s 11th annual Anne Frank Project social justice festival, on Tuesday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Burchfield Penney Art Center. She is the distinguished speaker in the Buffalo State College Paul G. Bulger Lecture Series.

De Veaux, a poet, novelist, activist, and children’s author, will discuss the art of finding your voice. 

Born and raised in Harlem, she became interested in literature as a child. Throughout her life, she’s won awards for her children’s books, fiction, and nonfiction. In 1990, she was chosen to interview Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison in South Africa for Essence magazine. De Veaux was the first North American writer to interview Mandela after his release. 

As a celebrated writer and activist, De Veaux is widely recognized for her contributions to many women’s and literary organizations. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies from the University at Buffalo.

Drew Kahn, Buffalo State’s SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Theater, said De Veaux is an important link to the African American female literary chain, which includes writers like Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. In fact, Kahn said, De Veaux is a direct protégé of Morrison’s.

“De Veaux’s life journey and work reflect strongly on our students, their stories, struggles, and dreams,” he said. “Dr. De Veaux is motivated intensely by her family—one of eight children born and raised in Harlem, and her mother’s contention that ‘You have three strikes against you: you poor, you black, and you female.’ Dr. De Veaux has defied those ’strikes’ in her life and seemingly turned them into the muscle of her success. This is on clear display in her writing, her activism, and her teaching. She embodies our students’ aspirations. She is proof of their potential success.”

Kahn said those who attend De Veaux’s event should expect “strength, pride, unashamed opinions, imagination, and unapologetic explosion of identity.”

The festival continues Wednesday and Thursday, October 2 and 3, with 20 workshops and performances on campus. Each 75-minute session will be held on the second floor of the Campbell Student Union in the Social or Assembly hall. Additionally, the exhibits Engaging through Change: The Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls and Tales from the Porch, by artists E. B. Lewis and Aitina Fareed-Cooke, ’12, ’16, respectively, will be on view in Upton Hall galleries. All events are free and open to the public. The exhibits run through October 11.

Founded by Kahn, AFP uses a mix of artistic performances, workshops, and talks to encourage conflict resolution, community building, and identity exploration. The event welcomes hundreds of participants to campus each year. This year’s theme, Engage for Change, reflects AFP's mission and the life of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

“One of the great things about AFP is it allows for and encourages students to take multiple leadership roles,” said Eve Everette, ’09, assistant director of AFP. Everette played the starring role in Buffalo State’s 2006 production of The Diary of Anne Frank.

One of this year’s signature events, “Sophia’s Legacy Project,” will be held on October 2 at 12:15 p.m. in the Social Hall. Through an interactive presentation, Holocaust survivor Sophia Veffer shares her stories of growing up in Amsterdam, attending school with Anne Frank, experiencing the atrocities of the Holocaust, and rebuilding her life following the war.

Other key events:

  • Life Recorded: Honoring the 90th Birthdays of Roswell Park Cancer Survivors
    October 2  |  1:45 p.m.  |  Student Union Assembly Hall
    Anne Frank would have turned 90 this year. This session honors members of the Roswell Park community who are celebrating their 90th birthdays this year. The goal is to highlight a generation’s strength and showcase the parallels between the lives of those who are 90 years old and all lives.
  • Building Capacity with Community-Campus Conversations
    October 3  |  12:15 p.m.  |  Student Union Social Hall
    Laura Rao, director of the Buffalo State Civic and Community Engagement Office, and Joy Guarino, professor of dance, will engage participants in kinesthetic activities to connect with personal values and encourage conversations across community groups to inspire lives of active citizenship and social responsibility.
  • Healing from Historical Trauma and the Power of Recognizing Our Potential: A Native American Example
    October 3  |  1:45 p.m.  |  Student Union Assembly Hall
    Learn how the “All Our Relations” Project and HOPE Approach were developed within this encompassing perspective of the interconnectedness of all areas of life and the many challenges caused by unresolved historical traumas.

For more information, please call 878-5559 or view the full events schedule online.

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