Kaaawa Poet Takara Co-chairing Black Studies Institute

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - December 20, 2006
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Kaaawa resident and UH professor Kathryn Waddell Takara will read one of her poems during the opening reception for the Winter Institute on Black Studies Jan. 11 at the Ala Moana Hotel.

Kathryn Waddell Takara
Kathryn Waddell Takara

A dancer and a drummer will accompany her performance.

“There’s not that much general knowledge in the islands about black contributions because of our minority status. It’s been overlooked,” explained Takara, who has published the books New and Collected Poems and Oral Histories of African-Americans in Hawaii. “The conference is about recovering history and sharing that.”

A poet for most of her life, the African studies professor’s poems generally reflect nature and the islands.

The Faculty of African American Descent at UH-Manoa selected professors Takara and Petrice Flowers to coordinate the institute which focuses on significant contributions and challenges of blacks in America.

Keynote address Jan. 11 is by Lonnie Bunch, a director for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Star Williams and Company will entertain at the reception.

Three roundtable discussions are planned Jan. 12 at the East-West Center on the theme “Telling the Story: Blacks in America and the Pacific.” Topics by local and mainland speakers include Telling the Tough Stories in Public Places, Giving Voice to Silenced Histories in Hawaii and the Pacific, and Bringing the Real Story to the Whole Community.

Speakers are from Brown University, Art Institute of Chicago, American History Workshop, National Underground Railroad Project, Museum of Afro-American History, Vanuatu National Cultural Council, Prairie View, Texas A & M University, New Mexico State University, Bishop Museum, USS Arizona Memorial, and visiting professors at UH from George Washington University and George Mason University.

The deadline to register for the conference is Jan. 3. Admission is free for opening night, but the reception dinner costs $50, and following day’s event offers breakfast and lunch for $35. For more information, call 956-8204 or log onto www.uhfad.com

Takara, who earned the Board of Regents Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for 1995-1996, lived in Kailua in 1970, and she’s been in Kaaawa since 1974. She also taught French at Windward Community College for many years.

Takara created the first black studies courses in ethnic studies at UH-Manoa. She takes care of her father, William Waddell, who was born in 1908, and is one of the oldest living Buffalo Soldiers. He served as a veterinarian in the Army during World War II.

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