WPI's Hull Lecture Explores African American Discrimination in Japan

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - African Americans have had the misfortune of having much of their history determined by others. That's the case in this country, but also, unfortunately, in other parts of the world.

To look at this situation, Worcester Polytechnic Institute will present the Hull Memorial Lecture with Regge Life, executive producer and director of the film, "Struggle and Success: the American Experience In Japan," Thursday, Oct. 28, from noon to 2 p.m. in Alden Memorial Hall on the Worcester, Mass., campus.

Life notes that in the global arena, Japan is among the countries with a variety of negative and stereotypical images of African Americans. After World War II, during the time of its rebuilding as democracy in the American tradition, the seeds of racism became transplanted there. As a result, many people have the perception that the Japanese view African Americans and other ethnic minorities as inferior. Yet, despite this, some African Americans who have made Japan their home profess to find this culture more tolerant than American culture, according to Life.

Life's film, narrated by Ossie Davis with music by Paul Jackson of the Herbie Hancock Group, examines the complex lives of African Americans living in Japan. The program he will present at WPI's Hull lecture is a culmination of two years of research, development and production in Japan and the United States.

In it, African Americans from all walks of life tell their stories. For example, Andre De Cordova, originally from California, came to Japan in a wheelchair. He married a Japanese woman and, despite obstacles, developed a dynamic method of teaching English to Japanese children. The film contains a series of such in-depth profiles of African Americans confronting the challenges of life in Japan.

The Hull Lecture honors the memory of Laurence F. Hull, a member of the WPI class of 1964, who died in a car accident the following year. An outstanding student, Hull was president of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity, editor of the student newspaper and chairman of the Student Senate Committee on Assemblies. In this last capacity he sought to make students aware of the role of science and technology in society by inviting prominent speakers to campus.

For more information, call WPI at 508-831-5547 or contact Regge Life at 518-392-5604.