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Unity Month to be celebrated in September with concert, speakers

Sharita Forrest
(217) 244-1072;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A variety of educational and entertainment events will be held on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in September to commemorate Unity Month, a communitywide celebration to foster diversity and heighten sensitivity to issues of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and ability/disability.

Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Champaign Mayor Gerald Schweighart and Urbana Mayor Tod Satterthwaite will participate in the opening ceremony for the event on the anniversary plaza of the Illinois Quad at noon Sept. 3 (Tuesday).

The American Indian Center in Chicago and issues affecting the Native American Community will be the focus of talks from noon to 1 p.m. on Sept. 4 (Wednesday). The speakers will be Joseph Podlasek, executive director of the center; Ansel Deon, cultural coordinator of the center; and Robert Smith, community organizer for the Coalition of the Chicago American Indian Community. The event will be in Room A, Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

Jambana, a concert featuring a variety of musical groups on two stages, will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 13 on the forecourt of Foellinger Auditorium on the Quad (Editor: See schedule below.) The free public concert will include performances by Illini Contraband, a jazz-funk group; a cappella singing groups the Other Guys and the Girls Next Door; and the Steel Band from the School of Music.

Also performing will be Chambana, a jazz quintet comprising university administrators and faculty members; the independent rock band Roscoe Plush; the Failures; Amasong; and Candy Foster and Shades of Blue.

A candle-lighting ceremony will follow the concert.

Educational events during Unity Month will include a racial sensitivity workshop, a freshman forum on diversity, an interfaith discussion panel about religions and an orientation session on the campus’s cultural centers.

A multicultural art and fashion show, performances of poetry from different cultures and a display of cultural items by registered student organizations also are planned.

"Unity Month will be filled with activities and programs that will allow us to celebrate the richness in our diversity," Cantor said. "I encourage everyone to extend this event past the month of September. Unity, indeed, community, is an evergreen engagement, stretching from fall through the summer months."

University students will conclude the monthlong celebration with closing ceremonies and a multicultural ball at the Hawthorne Suites in Champaign on Sept. 27.

The Unity Month observance was established in September 2001 by joint proclamation of the Champaign and Urbana mayors and the chancellor to celebrate diversity and foster unanimity.

A calendar of Unity Month activities, including admission prices for events, is available on the Web at


6:00 – 6:20 p.m. UI Steel Band – Stage B
6:20 – 6:50 p.m. The Failures – Stage A
6:50 – 7:10 p.m. The Other Guys – Stage B
7:10 – 7:40 p.m. Illini Contra Band – Stage A
7:40 – 8:00 p.m. Amasong – Stage B
8:00 – 8:30 p.m. Candy Foster and Shades of Blue – Stage A
8:30 – 8:50 p.m. The Girls Next Door – Stage B
8:50 – 9:20 p.m. Chambana Jazz Quintet – Stage A
9:20 – 9:40 p.m. The Usual Suspects – Stage B
9:40 – 10:10 p.m. Roscoe Plush – Stage A
10:10 – 10:30 p.m. Candle lighting ceremony and music