Filmmaker Spike Lee to speak at U’s Conference on Diverse Excellence

Filmmaker Spike Lee to speak at Us Conference on Diverse Excellence

Spike Lee, a black filmmaker and activist, will speak at the U as part of the ASUU Conference on Diverse Excellence.

The two-day conference, themed “Imagine U: The Future of Social Justice,” intends to create dialogue and build awareness of ongoing issues and oppression in modern culture. Lee will be the keynote speaker on March 29 at noon in the Union ballroom. The conference will go from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. that day, featuring various workshops, lectures and a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m.

Lee has directed — in addition to acting in and producing — more than 40 films generally focused on social issues, such as race relations, poverty and politics. Lee’s 1986 film, “She’s Gotta Have It,” cost $175,000 to make and earned $7 million, launching his career. His other films include “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “When the Levees Broke.”

Jesus Hernandez, director of ASUU’s Diversity Board, collaborated with the Campus Event Speaker Board to get Lee to attend the event.

“We wanted a high-profile individual with lasting impact on our country from the film industry or other entertainers,” Hernandez said. “Spike Lee was an option, and he’s done so much. It will be a great event.”

Hernandez wants the Conference on Diverse Excellence to become an annual tradition at the U. They are holding the event over two weekdays in the hopes that all students will be able attend at least a portion of the conference and participate in a lecture, discussion or service project.

The conference will continue on March 30 and will conclude with a free showing of “School Daze,” Lee’s 1988 film about fraternity and sorority clashes at a historically black college. The film delved into issues within the black community, such as skin tone and class disparity. Lee based the film in part on his own experiences at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he received a degree in mass communication. Lee went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in film and television from New York University.

Lee was in Utah this year at the Sundance Film Festival, premiering his new documentary, “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to ‘Off the Wall.’” Lee chose not to attend the 2016 Academy Awards due to the lack of racial diversity among acting nominees.

ASUU’s Diversity Board, which organized the conference, supports all underrepresented students on campus. More information, schedules and links to register can be found at: asuu.utah.edu/code.

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