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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Prominent UW-Madison professors Gloria Ladson-Billings and Faisal Abdu’Allah shared information about education in journalism and art, respectively, as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series Thursday.

Prominent UW-Madison professors Gloria Ladson-Billings and Faisal Abdu’Allah shared information about education in journalism and art, respectively, as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series Thursday.

UW professors speak on educational journalism, finding identity in art

Two UW-Madison professors explored education in journalism and discovering identity through art at the DeLuca Forum Thursday.

The event, part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate Distinguished Lecture Series, featured professors Gloria Ladson-Billings and Faisal Abdu’Allah.

Ladson-Billings is a decorated professor of education at UW-Madison. Her lecture, “Facts... Just the Facts: Restoring Context to Achievement Disparities” focused on journalistic investigations into education systems, the elements that contribute to certain educational climates and circumstances and the specific language used to report on them.

“If you really want to write about education, you have to transcend the facts,” Ladson-Billings said. “The facts, when linked to the larger context, are not only understandable; they are highly predictable.”

Ladson-Billings emphasized the importance of wording used to convey journalistic findings, such as using the term “achievement gap” to refer to what she considers an “education debt.”

“Few education writers have the luxury of in-depth contest of schools and education, but when they do write them, it can yield amazing results,” Ladson-Billings said.

Abdu’Allah’s lecture, “Mirror To My Thoughts & The Duppy Conqueror,” followed his development as a person and artist, specifically through the lens of his diverse upbringing and identity.

Born Paul Anthony Duffus in the 1970s in the United Kingdom to Jamaican immigrants, Abdu’Allah was raised in a Christian household by a religious father, yet never took to his father’s beliefs.

Abdu’Allah became an artist after being taken to the National Gallery as a child by an art teacher.

“I went into this space and it felt right,” Abdu’Allah said. “I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong or my skin was the wrong color or disconnected with the things on the wall.”

After a visit to Boston during his undergraduate career exposed him to the Harlem Renaissance, Paul Anthony Duffus returned to the U.K. as the newly converted Abdu’Allah and began to study artists much different than those he had studied before.

Abdu’Allah said this lecture marked the first time he had ever presented his birth name on screen during a presentation.

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Much of Abdu’Allah’s work carries a strong message, such as his 2003 “Garden of Eden” exhibit or his 1993 “I Wanna Kill Sam…” print.

“I know these are terrible times,” Abdu’Allah said. “But I think the artist has a role in shaping consciousness.”

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