Prominent Poet Sonia Sanchez To Keynote ALANA Student Leadership Conference

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Sonia Sanchez, a well-known African American author and political activist, will be the keynote speaker for this year’s ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Student Leadership Conference, Sept. 15 to 20 at SUNY Oswego.

During the conference, members of the campus community as well as students visiting from other colleges will participate in workshops and other special events that will help them expand their knowledge about ALANA cultures and improve their leadership skills and practices.

As of last week, students from SUNY campuses at Albany, Cortland and Alfred were scheduled to attend Oswego’s conference, said Grace Mukupa of Student Organization Services, who is coordinating the conference. Registrations are still coming in.

Sanchez will speak at 8 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Hewitt Union ballroom. Admission to her talk will be free but tickets will be required to attend.

Poet Maya Angelou called Sanchez “a lion in literature’s forest.” The novelist Isabel Allende said of Sanchez, “Only a poet with an innocent heart can exorcise so much pain with so much beauty.”

Active in the civil rights movement and an important member of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, Sanchez also taught at a number of universities and was a pioneer in developing black studies courses. She retired from the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University in 1999.  – MORE –

She has written more than a dozen books of poetry. “Does Your House Have Lions?” was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and “Homegirls and Handgrenades” won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She is also the author of plays and essays. After her talk, she will be available to sign copies of her books.

Other highlights of the conference will include a dance workshop Sept. 16, a presentation on gospel music Sept. 18, “Celebrating Voices of Women Around the Globe” marking the 30th anniversary of the women’s studies program Sept. 17, a fashion show Sept. 19, and a step show Sept. 20.

Student groups will give presentations on such topics as “Proper English vs. Ebonics,” important figures in the Latino Revolutionary Movement and the background of Chinese dumplings (with free samples).

Among concluding conference events Sept. 20 will be the ALANA dinner, featuring Pedro Caban as speaker. Caban is SUNY’s vice provost for diversity and education equity and a professor of Latino studies at SUNY Albany. SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Programs and Centers report to him.

Most ALANA conference events are free, but some free events will require tickets for admission, including Sanchez’s talk. Tickets are available at both the Campus Center and Tyler box offices.

An exception is tickets for the step show, which may be purchased only at the Campus Center box office. Prices are $18 in advance and $23 the day of the show.

The complete ALANA conference schedule is available online from a link at