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Drive Aims to Raise $100,000 for Endowed Lectureship Fund in UB Department of African American Studies

By John DellaContrada

Release Date: May 3, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Plans for an endowed lectureship fund in the Department of African American Studies in the University at Buffalo's College of Arts and Sciences have received a $1,000 endorsement from a Buffalo club named for famed civil-rights activist Mary Burnett Talbert.

The contribution from the Mary Burnett Talbert Civic & Cultural Club brings to nearly $10,000 the total raised to date toward a goal of $100,000 set by Lillian Serece Williams, associate professor and chair of the department, when she launched the fund-raising initiative last fall.

Williams' goal is to obtain 100 contributions of $1,000 each from UB alumni, friends and colleagues.

"The series will highlight the importance of African American studies as a discipline and the department as a center for scholarly excellence," said Williams, Ph.D. '79, who also earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from UB and enjoys a national reputation as an author, historian and consultant. "It will bring renowned scholars to UB to share their perspectives on contemporary and historical issues, to educate our students and to attract potential students and faculty."

Williams said the series -- perhaps the only endowed lecture series in African American studies in the State University of New York system -- would serve as a valuable resource for students.

"The visiting scholars will serve as role models for our students, perhaps influencing some to go into academia," she said. "The lecture series also will help to forge closer ties between the university and the community."

Sylvia Wright, president of the Talbert club, said she and other women in the club are very excited to recognize the Department of African American Studies and Williams for her determination and outstanding vision.

"A lecture series with renowned scholars can highlight the UB department and its unique work in bridging the gap between races, a benefit to all of us in our increasingly global world," Wright said.

Though a small club established in 1974, Wright said the Talbert club is part of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc., organized in 1896 to recognize historical efforts and perpetuate current initiatives of black women involved in civil rights and community service.

One of the nation's most prominent black leaders, Mary Burnett Talbert came to Buffalo in 1891 and quickly became involved in the city's church and community life. Talbert also was renowned in international reform circles. Her civil rights efforts helped lead to the establishment of the Buffalo Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and she later was NAACP national vice president. Talbert Hall on the UB North (Amherst) Campus is named in her honor.

Those interested in donating to the endowed lecture series should contact Deborah McKinzie, assistant dean and senior director of development in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, at (716) 645-6000, ext. 1503, or mckinzie@buffalo.edu or visit the endowed fund's Web site at http://wings.buffalo.edu/academic/department/AandL/aas/giving/giving.html.