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Join us for a spirited evening of performances and poignant conversations with Frank X Walker, Yolantha Harrison-Pace and Jessica Chisley. Meet the artists and learn what inspires them to create and perform art that affects change during CULTURE + BLACK CULTURE MATTERS. The program will be introduced by Centre College President Milton Moreland and moderated by Andrea Abrams, Center’s associate Vice President for Diversity Affairs.

Registration to this free and virtual event is required. Click the button below to register and receive a surprise gift!


Guest Biographies

Danville native and former Kentucky Poet Laureate, Frank X Walker, is a Professor in the department of English and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. He is Director of UK’s MFA in Creative Writing, and founding editor of Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. A Cave Canem Fellow and co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, the multidisciplinary artist is the author of ten collections of poetry including Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, which won the NAACP Image award for poetry and the forthcoming, Masked Man, Black: Pandemic & Protest Poems. Voted one of the most creative professors in the south, he is the originator of the word, Affrilachia, and is dedicated to deconstructing and forcing a new definition of what it means to be Appalachian. The Lannan Poetry Fellowship Award recipient has degrees from the University of Kentucky and Spalding University as well as four honorary doctorates from the University of Kentucky, Transylvania University, Spalding, and Centre College. Photo credit: Patrick J. Mitchell

Yolantha Harrison-Pace, a Danville resident for over 20 years, is a Missionary Evangelist, award-winning author, playwright, women’s advocate and champion of children using literacy and the performing arts to edify, educate and empower underserved populations in America and beyond. Pace is a Kentucky Duchess, recipient of the Golden Apple Award as well as being honored as a Humanitarian Woman of Essence to mention just a few of her numerous accolades.

In 2004, Jessica Chisley received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Music from Centre College, and went on to play with several local bands including the party band, Dump Truck on the Run, where she met her duo partner, the late John Rusnak. As a member of Dump Truck, Chisley played saxophone and also performed both lead and back-up vocals for the band. In the musical duo, The Sunspots – Rusnak and Chisley brought the funk with their up-beat eclectic mix of music and infectious harmonies.  

Jessica was promoted to Associate Head Soccer Coach prior to the start of the 2017 season after serving as a full-time assistant since 2005 at Centre College. Chisley is the program’s goalkeeper coach, works with the team’s defense, coaches the program’s Reserve team, and serves as the program’s recruiting coordinator.

Andrea Abrams came to Centre in 2007 as the College’s first Consortium for Faculty Diversity at Liberal Arts Colleges Postdoctoral Fellow, and became assistant professor of anthropology in 2009. She was promoted to associate professor in 2014. In 2018, she was named associate vice president for diversity affairs & special assistant to the president. She is the author of God and Blackness: Race, Gender and Identity in a Middle Class Afrocentric Church (NYU Press, 2014). Before coming to Centre, Abrams taught at the University of Southern Mississippi, Emory University, Agnes Scott College, and Spelman College. Her research focuses on racial and gender issues in the South.

The Norton Center’s new live digital series, CULTURE +, celebrates Central Kentucky’s brightest performers, artists, and leaders. The monthly series explores how the arts intersect with important community conversations through live performances and thought-provoking dialogue! 

 As a Norton Center Creative Conversations program, support for CULTURE + has been provided by a gift from Dr. Jeff Johnson, Centre College Class of 1995, and Ken Michael.

“The Norton Center has been committed to presenting culturally diverse programming for years,” said Norton Center Executive Director, Steve Hoffman. “This past June, our staff shared its Norton Center Statement of Solidarity in response to the demands for social justice. It seemed most appropriate to launch the first of our exciting new CULTURE + programs with a conversation around Black culture and feature Black artists from our community.  The CULTURE + series will be live-streamed while we are in this pandemic and will be made accessible for everyone in the community.”

IT’S EASY TO JOIN! Event registration is required. Please click here to register. Once you have registered, a Zoom event link will be emailed to you. Simply click on the meeting link on August 13 at 7:30 pm. A new window will appear saying that Zoom is launching your meeting. Click the link “start from your browser,” then type in your name and click “Join.” Other options include downloading the Zoom app and creating an account in advance of the meeting. For more information, please visit https://zoom.us/.

Once you join the meeting, you will enter a virtual waiting room before the host admits you. Upon joining, your microphone will be muted. Please use the raise your hand or chat features to ask a question or share your story.

This event will have an American Sign Language interpreter provided.