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Clinging to cultural identity



While the media has focused on the coming of the year 2000, the organizers of the 10th annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities are paying special attention to how Y2K will affect African-Americans. The resulting panel that kicks off this year's festival on Wednesday, Jan. 27, will focus on concerns about holding on to cultural identity in a rapidly changing society.

"It's the challenge that faces all of us," says the festival's founder and executive director, N.Y. Nathiri. "But when your culture is under assault, you have to be more focused and think strategically about the future."

Scheduled to speak on the topic are firebrand poet and playwright Amiri Baraka, novelist Rosa Guy and literary scholar Eleanor Traylor. Stephen Caldwell Wright, of Seminole Community College, will moderate.

The panel discussion is free, but costs and locations for other events, which run through Jan. 31, can be obtained by calling 647-3307 or through the festival's website. Other highlights:

Thursday, Jan. 28 In Conversation: Writers John Hope Franklin and Richard A. Long discuss their work.

Friday, Jan. 29 Public Forums: With humanities lectures by Marcus Alexis (1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.) and Daryl Cumber Dance (3 p.m.-5 p.m.). Street Festival of the Arts: Cultural celebration features community music and dance groups, food and craft vendors. An Evening of Art and Music: Curator Mary Jane Hewitt discusses "Beyond the Veil," currently on display at the Cornell Museum of Fine Art. Followed at 8:15 p.m. by Bethune-Cookman College Chorale's performance of "America's 20th Century Songbook."

Saturday, Jan. 30 Street Festival of the Arts continues. Spunk: Adaptations of three Hurston short stories performed by the Dr. Philips High School Theatre Magnet Company. Festival Gala: Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis appear in "Zora! 10 Takes It to the Max," a tribute to jazz drummer Max Roach.

Sunday, Jan. 31 Street Festival of the Arts.