Symposium Kicks Off at African American Heritage Center in Cvill - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Symposium Kicks Off at African American Heritage Center in Cville

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Friday, the African American Heritage Center at Charlottesville’s Jefferson School launched a project to feature speakers from around the country. It is the product of a $20,000 grant.

African American Heritage Center Director Andrea Douglass says the grant, provided by Dominion Power, allowed them to give their community a first-rate facility.

"This is a surround sound, state-of-the-art auditorium and with complete wireless and we seat 300 people,” said Douglass.

Dominion representatives say they're pleased to make possible what they call a fresh new perspective on how the civil rights movement influenced popular culture.

A two-day symposium started Friday and continues through Saturday and focuses specifically on animation. It began with a class for students ages 12 through 16. Following that, there was a talk about the portrayal of African-Americans in cartoons, and how it affects children - the biggest consumer group.

"It's important for young people to see themselves represented and reflected in the media and to know that they, their lives, their stories are important and they can be a part of those media stories as well,” said Richard Breaux, professor of ethnic studies at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Animation students from Virginia Commonwealth University taught the class. The program was also developed with input from an Albemarle high school.

"We worked with Miller School students, and so after, at the end of that program, you know the next time we meet with them, their charge is to do the research to help us create the next one,” said Breaux.

Douglass says the goal is to have students leave as active consumers of media.

"When people walk away, they'll be looking at those images much more critically,” said Douglass.

Bruce Smith, a senior animator for Disney, will be the keynote speaker Saturday. He is scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m.

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