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Black Journalists In Senegal For Festival

 WASHINGTON  -- A delegation from the National Association of Black Journalists is among black artists, writers, filmmakers, academics, scientists, and other leaders in Africa for the historic World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures. The Festival, under the auspices of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and other African leaders, continues through Dec. 31.

For only the third time in 50 years, a U.S. delegation of more than 200 African-American leaders will attend the Festival, including groups from NABJ, the National Conference of Black Mayors, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.  In all, thousands of delegates from 80 countries will converge on Dakar.

Dr. Djibril Diallo, Coordinator of the U.S. Committee for the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures and Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), said the size and depth of the delegation underscore the historic nature of the Festival.

"The Festival will be a landmark event, bringing together great artists and intellectuals from around the world to celebrate the theme of African Renaissance," said Diallo, who also is co-chair of the NABJ World Affairs Task Force. "The Festival will also be an important opportunity to highlight the role of art and culture in promoting development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, including progress in reversing the AIDS epidemic."

Other U.S. delegates are Dr. Julius Garvey, son of Marcus Garvey; actor Richard Gant; jazz legend Randy Weston; Professor  James Turner, Cornell University;  Dr. Johnetta Cole, Director of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution; Professor Leonard Jeffries, City University of New York;  Runoko Rashidi, noted historian; and Mississippi State Sen. Hillman Frazier.

The Senegal excursion is part of NABJ's strategy of connecting black journalists with journalists of color round the world, Diallo said. NABJ formed a World Affairs Task Force to look at how to ensure more balanced and frequent coverage of Africa. Festival participants will have access to development professionals with expertise in a variety of areas, from poverty to HIV/AIDS to conflict prevention.

Since the World Affairs Task Force was formed in 1984, Diallo said, "Progress has been seen in saving lives of people with HIV/AIDS, prevention, and treatment of those infected. The African-American community is one of the hardest hit by HIV/AIDS inthe United States.  To have NABJ members give visibility to HIV/AIDS from the Mississippi Delta all the way to Timbuktu in Maliis something the task force has tackled head-on and with success."

The trip will build on the work of NABJ President Kathy Times and previous NABJ leaders. A roundtable will be held to discuss how NABJ could work with African media.

Other NABJ members in the delegation are: Vice President-Print Deirdre M. Childress, Photojournalist Kimberly P. Mitchell and Columnist Rochelle Riley, both of the Detroit Free Press, Ebony Senior Editor Adrienne Samuels GibbsCurtis Simmons, representing the Amsterdam News and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood, co-chairman of the NABJ World Affairs Task Force.

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation providing educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.



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