Collier highlights OUS Cultural Awareness Week

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 30, 2007

To celebrate Cultural and Social Awareness Week at Ohio University Southern, the school brought in a familiar face.

JV Collier, a bassist who has played with Bruce Hornsby and the Pointer Sisters as well as on numerous Motown hits, has returned for a third time to the campus to spread an anti-drug message, talk to classes and perform on Friday.

Also here this year is Richard D. White, an artist who works with vivid paints and wood to create works in the style of his Gullah ancestors. The Gullah are descendents of slaves who were brought to the North Carolina seacoast to raise cotton, rice and indigo.

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White is the OUS artist in resident for 2007 and 2008 and is having a gallery showing tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The two men were in various classes on Monday and will be throughout this week.

Interim director of student services Robert Pleasant and Professor Charles Jarrett arranged Cultural and Social Awareness Week.

Jarrett, who is a sociologist, met White last year during the 10th annual Gullah Festival in Hilton Head, S.C. The two hit it off and White is doing illustrations for Jarrett’s upcoming book about the Gullah culture called “Journeys Home.”

White was a cross-country truck driver when in 2004 he had an accident. He couldn’t work after having his spleen repaired and three disks in his back replaced. He started painting as a way to make some money. At first he worked on canvas but as money got tight, he began using scrap wood to carve pieces.

As he worked, he began to think more about his Gullah roots and growing up on the South Carolina seacoast, all of which is reflected in his work. He found out his pieces were popular when he went to pick up his works after a gallery showing and every thing had sold.

“I don’t think I can live without doing this,” White said. “I’d rather be dead if I couldn’t paint.”

This is also Red Ribbon Week and to cap off all the events, Collier will perform with Jarrett, White and others Friday from 1-2 p.m. in the Bowman Auditorium in a program called “The Road to Success.”

“We will be busing kids in from all over the county to discuss teen issues,” Jarrett said.

Pleasant said they expect to pack the auditorium, which holds over 300 people.

Collier said his anti-drug message came long before he entered the music business at the age of 16. He said growing up in Detroit he lost relatives and friends either to drugs or drug-related events. But before he was invited to speak out against drugs at OUS in 2005, he had never spoken professionally about it.

“It kind of scared me. Actually, I was terrified,” he said. He talked it over with his wife who told him he should do it. “She reminded me I was always on my soapbox about it.”

Jarrett was impressed by his first speech.

“We knew he was a great musician, we did not know he was such a powerful speaker,” he said.

Collier said his message is inspirational.

“I seem to connect with this community and the kids just blew me away,” he said.

Other Cultural and Social Awareness events include

4Today: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Celebrating Diversity at the OUS Proctorville Center; 4:30 p.m., A cultural conversation with Stephanie Hill, a teacher at Burlington Elementary School, Topic: Poverty: A Roadblock to Effective Education.

4Wednesday 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Proctorville Center, Building Bridges Diversity Training; 12:15 p.m.: Brown Bag Concert Series with Michael and Janet; 6 p.m. Open Mic Night for poets, musicians, dancers and other artists, 6 p.m.

4Thursday, 1 p.m. Dingus Building, Dr. Lacey Curtis Women’s Forum, Women in Education with Dr. Susanne B. Dietzel.

4Friday, 1 p.m. The Road to Success with Collier performing and WSAZ news anchor Carrie Cline speaking.