Iowa State University


Terry Houston, Student Activities Office, (515) 294-1023
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- More than 1,000 African American students will gather at Iowa State this month for four days of professional development, nationally known speakers and entertainment.

Iowa State's Black Student Alliance is hosting the 20th Annual Big Eight Black Student Government Conference, Feb. 20-23. Although the conference is considered a Big Eight event, African-American student-government representatives and their advisers from all Big 12 schools are expected to attend. (The conference will change its name in 1998.) Some of the events are open to the public.

The conference is an opportunity for African American students to discuss mutual concerns and issues on their respective campuses and to develop leadership skills, said Kyle Pierce, ISU junior and chair of the conference planning committee.

"We are honored to host the Big Eight Conference on Black Student Government, especially because it's the 20th annual and the final in a series under the name 'Big Eight,' " Pierce said. "We are anticipating a strong showing from colleges and universities all over the country."

Conference activities include workshops on leadership skills and professional development. There also will be a career fair, where students will have the opportunity to meet with employers from across the country to discuss careers and internship opportunities, Pierce said.

Among the scheduled speakers are Elaine Brown, the only woman leader of the Black Panther Party and author of "A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story;" Jawanza Kunjufu, lecturer and president of the Chicago-based communications firm, African American Images; Kesho Y. Scott, lecturer and author of "Tight Spaces," a collection of short autobiographical stories that won the American Book Award in 1988; Patricia Russell-McCloud, attorney and lecturer; Clifford Talbert, actor and author of "Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored"; and Pastor Willie Wilson.

Gospel groups from across the country, including Iowa State's Big Eight Choir, will perform at the conference's annual Gospel Extravaganza. At the other end of the entertainment spectrum will be a comedy show similar to the popular HBO series, Def Comedy Jam.

The conference is entirely student run and has received funding support from the President's Office, ISU Government of the Student Body, Ames businesses and a variety of major corporations.

The following conference events open to the public are:

Friday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 2210 Lincoln Way

Speaker: Elaine Brown

Saturday, Feb. 22, 8:30 a.m., Benton Auditorium, Scheman Building

Brown is the author "A Taste of Power," an autobiography about her experiences as a member and leader of the Black Panther Party. She is the first woman in the United States to head a paramilitary organization.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 8 p.m., C.Y. Stephens Auditorium

Student groups from Big 12 universities will perform in this stepshow competition. While this event is open to the public, tickets are $15.


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