NEWARK, NJ - Scholars and artists will be brought together at Rutgers University - Newark next month to explore sexuality in the African American community.

The 39th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series will be the premier event for Rutgers - Newark’s Black History Month conference. The event, named after the late East Orange native and pioneering African-American historian, will be held Feb. 16 at 9:30 a.m. in the Paul Robeson Campus Center.

This year’s lecture series is titled “The Erotic as Power: Sexuality in the Black Experience” and will examine sexuality, race and gender on a local and global level. The opening speaker will be E. Patrick Johnson, a scholar and artist whose work includes two ethnographies about black, queer life in the South titled "Sweet Tea" and "Black. Queer. Southern. Woman."

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Other speakers will include Cheryl Dunye, who directed the 1996 film “Watermelon Woman." UCLA African American Studies Chair Marcus Hunter - who has written about race and sexuality’s role in urban development in books such as “Black Citymakers: How the Philadelphia Negro Changed Urban America” - will also be on hand.

Also presenting will be Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a University of Minnesota professor, author of  “Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity" and the artist behind the Black Feminist Breathing Collages.

The conference is organized annually by the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers-Newark.

Lecture series attendees are invited to a reception in the Engelhard Court of the Newark Museum at 49 Washington St., which will feature food and live music by The Bradford Hayes Trio.

Both the reception and the lecture are free and open to the public.

For additional information about the program, visit ethnicity.rutgers.edu or the Price Institute’s Facebook page. Price Institute’s program coordinator, Mehreen Mian may be reached at mmian@newark.rutgers.edu.

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