Academic Affairs Notable authors visit CSU Kenneth McClane and James McBride pay fall visits to Central State
The power of the pen came alive for Central State University students and faculty as they had the opportunity in November to hear the words of two notable literary figures.
Kenneth McClane, the W.E.B. Du Bois professor of literature at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), was on campus in conjunc- tion with being a judge in the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
McClane spoke at a lecture on November 8, conveying some of the points he has made in his writings, including his newest essay collection Color: Essays on Race, Family, and His- tory (The University of Notre Dame Press, 2010).
“Those of us who care about the world must become knowledgeable about it,” he said. “True introspec- tion is important. If you don’t know who you are, you won’t be good for anyone else.
“Plus, interestingly enough, true in-
trospection will make you a generous person because the process of self-in- terrogation also makes us realize we’re not quite as good as we want to be.”
Mr. McClane’s essays and his remarks at CSU reflected his observations on life as an African American. McClane grew up in Harlem; his father was a doctor whose office was the former home of legendary Con- gressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. His mother was a licensed pharmacist as well as a painter and writer. Notables who visited the McClane home included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Duke Ellington.
Mr. McClane’s experiences include: being the first black student at a col- lege prep school, his father’s efforts to gain admission to medical school in the 1930s, and his parents’ decline from Alzheimer’s.
“I realized that their malady is just a different narrative,” he said.
Kenneth McClane joins members of the CSU Honors program following his book signing.
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James McBride, award-winning author, composer and screenwrit- er, also visited campus in November. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, is considered an American classic and read in schools and universities across the United States. His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna, became a major motion picture di- rected by film icon Spike Lee. Mr. McBride’s newest novel is Song Yet Sung.
Mr. McBride is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools. He studied composi- tion at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his master’s in Journalism from Colum- bia University in New York. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in
James McBride, author of the “Color of Water,” told students to have an open heart about people.
Residence at New York University. Such a high achiever had these words for students as he spoke at the No- vember convocation: “Give yourself the right to fail.” McBride explained that being open to failure helps a person try to achieve more.
Mr. McBride told the students to “have an open heart about people.” He also stressed the importance of education.
“The fact that you are here is because you are special and you’ve come to this special place,” he said. “You are at Central State University to learn to think and study what you like. Central State University represents the best and the brightest.”
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