Civil rights museum hosts pair of events

ALBANY -- The Albany Civil Rights Institute has two special programs going on tonight and on Saturday

At 7:30 p.m. tonight at the museum at 326 Whitney Ave., the fifth installment of the institute's Monthly Community Night will feature historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who will speak on how the ideas of blackness and criminality came to be conflated at the beginning of the Jim Crow era at the turn of the 20th century. His presentation is based on his recent book, "The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Urban America," published by Harvard University Press.

Muhammad, a student of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Levering Lewis at Rutgers University, received his Ph.D. in history in 2004. After completing a two-year Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at the Vera Institute of Justice, he joined the faculty of Indiana University in Bloomington as assistant professor of history. His book was selected this year by the San Francisco Chronicle as a top 10 title for Black History Month and was recommended by Ebony Magazine in April. Khalil Muhammad's research has focused on how black criminality came to be identified as a racial defect, whereas white immigrant criminality was seen as a social problem that society should help fix.

The event is free and open to the public. A book signing by the author will follow his presentation and his book will be available at the institute's gift shop.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. will be the institute's ACRI Community Day, which will feature a performance at 11 a.m. by the Freedom Singers. Visitors are encouraged to being photos, documents and objects related to the Civil Rights Movement or the Jim Crow era for possible inclusion in a new souvenir book or future museum exhibit.

Young cast ready for peachy stage roles

COLQUITT -- Aden Strickland will head up a young cast this weekend in the title role of the popular children's story "James and the Giant Peach," which takes stage at Cotton Hall in Colquitt, home of Georgia's official folklife play, Swamp Gravy.

Directed by Will Murdock, who also produces the music for the play with Ben Burkett, performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, and 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $13, adults, and $7, youth, an are available for purchase through the Swamp Gravy website,

"James" is the sixth annual production by the Colquitt/Miller Arts Council Youth Theater program, and Murdock said it involved some challenges -- such as producing a peach large enough to hold the young cast of six that can float, fly and "crash" into Central Park.

In addition to Aden, cast members playing the supporting "bugs" are Sabrina Grant, playing the motherly Miss Spider; Sidney Thomas, the worrisome Ladybug; Heather Grebel, the blind Earthworm; Danielle Powell, the "guy's guy" Centipede, and Preston Messer, musically talented Grasshopper.

After the Saturday evening peformance, there will be a Summer Fun Dance Party 8 p.m.-10 p.m. at the Interact Building. Admission is $5, with $1 off for those who bring their "Peach" play tickets.

Juvenile Court judge to speak at ASU

ALBANY -- Youth at an Albany State University summer program will hear Friday from Dougherty County Juvenile Court Judge Herbert L. Solomon. The judge will speak to youth participating in the National Youth Sports Program in the HPER Gymnasium at 1 p.m.

Solomon's lecture is part of the NYSP summer guest lecture series that brings prominent local officials to ASU to inspire program participants to achievement.

For more information, contact University Communications at (229) 430-4671.

Albany Elks team takes top state honors

JEKYLL ISLAND -- The Albany Elk Team won first place Saturday in the state ritual contest and Lecturing Knight Sheila Croft became the first woman to win the Guy Tyler Award for top scorer in this year's competition at the 109th annual convention of the Georgia Elks Association.

As state winner, the Albany team will compete against other state winners for the national title at the Elks Grand Lodge Convention July 4-8 in Orlando, Fla. The contest promotes excellence in the performance of the Elk rituals. This is the first time in 31 years that the Albany Elks have competed for the national title.

Albany Elk team members include Ken Smith, candidate; Art Gundersen, tiler; Tommy Thompson, coach; Sylvia Roseen, loyal knight; Danny Jones, leading knight; Bobby Hinman, inner guard; Dean Rosier, exalted ruler; Stanley Jones, coach; Shelia Croft, lecturing knight; Gary Fowler, esquire, and Bob Roseen, chaplain.

Albany team member Dean Rosier said "Preparing for the ritual contest is very time consuming and the judging is very rigid, however we all are looking forward to the trip to Orlando to represent Georgia in the national contest." The Albany Elks are very proud of this team and will have many members in Orlando to support them at the national contest.