Professor Rachel Williams, a tenured faculty member in the Language Arts Division at West Los Angeles College, is passionate about the arts and education. She has dedicated her time and efforts to promoting students’ global awareness and intellectual and cultural development through major academic and cultural arts enrichment programs that have attracted hundreds of people, not only from the campus community, but also the local and greater Los Angeles communities. Last month, May 14, 2014, at 7p.m. in the Fine Arts Complex at West Los Angeles College, Professor Williams coordinated a spectacular program, “Arts, Sciences and Human Rights: Africa” featuring internationally renowned Kenyan novelist & literary critic, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and multi-instrumentalist, Bennie Maupin & Ensemble.
There were dance performances and a concert by jazz legend Bennie Maupin–an original member of Miles Davis’ troupe–and ensemble. Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’ o read from his memoir and one of his novels at the post event meet-and-greet. Renowned sculptor, Michael Chukes, unveiled one of his latest sculptures to the audience. There were donations for the prizes for the event drawings from many organizations and individuals. 1st Prize: A Collection of Signed Literary Works by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, 2nd Prize: A Collection of CDs by Jazz Legend & Multi-Instrumentalist Bennie Maupin, 3rd Prize: Picasso’s L’Amitie (Framed 22×32 inches), 4th Prize: Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet, and 5th Prize: Laithwaite’s Wine Collection (12 Top-Estate Spring Reds and Whites). Sponsors of the event included African American Heritage Month Committee, Los Angeles Community Colleges District Black Faculty & Staff Association, Women’s History Month Committee, Associated Student Organization, and Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society. For more information, download the Arts, Sciences and Human Rights Flyer.
Stay on the lookout for Professor Williams’ cultural programming at West LA College at Culver City. Some of the artists, scholars, and events that Professor Williams is responsible for bringing to West LA include:
- Quincy Troupe, an award-winning poet and the author of Miles: The Autobiography of Miles Davis and The Pursuit of Hapyness, adapted into a major film featuring actor Will Smith
- Renowned poet Wanda Coleman, known as “the L.A. Blueswoman” and “the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles.
- Historians, such as Levom Marashlian, an expert on Armenian genocide
- Prominent poet and English professor Marilyn Chin
- Renowned sculptors and fine artists such as Toni Scott, Charles Bibbs, Synthia SAINT James, and Neville Garrick, who was the creative designer for all of Bob Marley’s album/CD covers and whose fine art exhibition at West featured historical sites and images of Ethiopia, its culture, and peoples
- An Ethiopian traditional dance troupe
- A Capoeira Brazil dance troupe
- Fine artist Barbara Mendes, whose exhibition at West featured oil paintings related to Israel and Israeli history and culture
- English professor and poet Miriam Glazer, who read Israeli women’s poetry
- The late Afro-Cuban jazz legend and UCLA Professor of Music Francisco Aguabella
- Bobby Matos’ Latin Jazz Ensemble
- The Elliot Caine Sextet
- Vail Johnson and other members of Kenny G’s ensemble
- The late American Indian Movement (AIM) leader, actor, and author Russell Means
- Noted actor Alan Tafoya, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe
We want to see programming like this at all of the Los Angeles community colleges.