Instead, Wortham and the dozens of students who take part in the organization's regular meetings and events are taking a more positive tack. Movie marathons, mixers, poetry readings, themed celebrations and events like this weekend's conference at Central State University titled "Media Images of Color: A Self Reflection" fill the calendar and offer minorities on Wittenberg's campus opportunities to learn more about themselves and their environment.
"Media Images of Color: A Self Reflection" is scheduled for 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10 at CSU's Paul Robeson Cultural and Performing Arts Center. A joint venture by black student leadership organizations at both Wittenberg and Central State, it will examine the negative images of blacks in the media through a variety of interactive workshops and panel discussions. It is also the biggest event on CBS' 2001 Black History Month calendar.
The keynote speaker is P. Eric Abercrumbie, director of minority programs and services at the University of Cincinnati (UC), where he is also adjunct instructor in the department of Afro-American studies. Abercrumbie is the originator of the Black Man Think Tanks, and he serves as a racial/human relations consultant to corporations, community groups and educational systems. Among his honors are UC's United Black Faculty and Staff Association Presidential Award of Excellence, the American Biographical Institute's Outstanding Community Leaders of the World, and the U.S. Peace Corps' Black Educator of the Year.
Wortham, who has been at Wittenberg since October 1999, is pleased to be offering such a quality program that can help students of all ethnic backgrounds see how media image perpetuate narrow racial stereotypes. CBS sponsored and/or organized about a dozen events during the first semester of the 2000-01 school year, and most recently activist Oba T'Shaka spoke to a crowd at Kissell Auditorium on Jan. 31.
"What I see here is a small school where I can make use of a lot of the skills I have developed at bigger schools," said Wortham, who previously served as director of special projects for the Fort Myers (Fla.) Housing Authority and has 17 years of experience in higher education at Florida Gulf Coast University, Pennsylvania State University and Wayne State University. "I work with the students. I can plan all of the programs I want, but if students aren't on board, they're not going anywhere."
The students who make up CBS are definitely on board - and then some. In fact, the conference on media images was the brainchild of the brothers of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, who presented their idea to Wortham. Together, they decided to involve nearby Central State, a historically black college that Wittenberg has rarely worked with in the past, and Tony Landis, CSU's director of university center/student development.
Students from other area universities, including the University of Dayton, Sinclair Community College, Wilberforce University, Cedarville University and Antioch College will also be taking part. Other invitees include area high school students and members of the Black Student Task Force, which draws student leaders from Capital University, Ohio Dominican College and Kenyon College, among others. The conference is open to the public, although space is limited. Those interested in attending should call Wittenberg at (937) 327-7800 or Central State at (937) 376-6393.