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C.T. Vivian to keynote Tufts black symposium

Alex Bloom | 2/26/2009, 7:15 a.m.

The Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian will speak this Saturday at the fourth annual Emerging Black Leaders Symposium at Tufts University. Vivian, a Baptist minister who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, will deliver the keynote address at this year’s symposium, entitled “The New Face of Black Leadership.”

Vivian plans to speak about Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and what his leadership means to African Americans. He said Obama, as a candidate for president, must represent the country as a whole instead of just African Americans.

“You haven’t heard him have a black agenda, as such,” Vivian said. “Not that that’s not important, but he is running for president of the total country. He sees that and he understands that, so that becomes tremendously important in terms of the new leadership that is necessary of our time.”

To Vivian, Obama’s Democratic caucus win in Iowa on Jan. 3 is representative of the candidate’s appeal to the nation as a whole.

“When we see Iowa, a state that I’ve done a lot of work in for [roughly 20] years, vote overwhelming for Obama, a black man, that says we need not accept old definitions and understandings about new leadership,” Vivian said.

The symposium will also have two discussion panels. The first, entitled “Accomplished Sistas: Black Women in Under-Represented Fields,” will address black women breaking job barriers.

It will feature, among others, Janet Langhart-Cohen, the former “Entertainment Tonight” and BET commentator and current president of Langhart Communications, and Dr. Denise Johnson of the Stanford University Medical Center.

The second panel discussion is entitled “Do You Have to Be Black to Be A Leader in the Black Community?: Alliance Building Versus Community Self-Empowerment,” and includes many educators.

Sabina Vaught, assistant professor of urban education at Tufts University, will speak, as will Michael Benitez Jr., director of intercultural development at Lafayette College.

The event starts at 10 a.m. with registration, which costs $5, outside of the Cabot Auditorium in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The first panel is at 11 a.m., Vivian will speak at 1 p.m., and the second panel starts at 3:30 p.m.