Hip hop star Chuck D will speak at UCSB tonight to commemorate Haiti’s tragic 2010 earthquake.
In an evening hosted by the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research, the former Public Enemy star will discuss the problems Haiti continues to face exactly one year after it was struck by the catastrophic, nation-changing 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The program will begin with a candlelight vigil in Storke Plaza at 4:30 p.m., followed by Chuck D’s speech at 7 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.
According to black studies professor Clyde Woods, acting director of the Center for Black Studies Research, the commemoration will teach students and faculty how to assist the impoverished nation in recovery. According to the U.N., approximately 220,000 people were killed by the one-year-old quake.
“It’s a time to reflect and rededicate ourselves to helping people in Haiti,” Woods said. “[Chuck D] has been a big supporter of UCSB Haiti relief efforts.”
A long-time advocate of Haitian rights, Chuck D — who is married to black studies assistant professor Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson — has worked on various projects with the Center for Black Studies Research over the past four years. He released an album in January titled Kombit pou Haiti, meaning ‘coming together for the good of Haiti.’ According to Woods, a portion of the album’s proceeds was contributed to UCSB’s Haiti Relief Fund.
Andrew MacCalla, an advisory committee member for the UC Haiti Initiative, is currently working as Direct Relief International’s Haiti program operations specialist in the poverty-stricken nation. MacCalla said while conditions in Haiti remain critical, the outpouring of aid from around the world has been essential to the country’s recovery and its fight against a cholera epidemic that has already claimed over 3,500 lives.
“On the surface, things look to be as bad as they were in the days immediately following the earthquake,” MacCalla said in an e-mail interview. “It’s easy to come here and say that things have not improved in Haiti and that the aid is not working, but had aid groups not responded in the immediate aftermath of the quake, a much greater number of people would have died.”
The event will also featuring screenings of two locally made videos and encourages a $3 to $5 contribution to the UCSB Haiti Relief Fund.
Black studies professor Claudine Michel, director of the Center for Black Studies Research, said she hopes the event will encourage continuing aid to Haiti and bring the community together to honor the disaster’s victims.
“It is a visual remembrance of earthquake victims and reflection of where we are a year later,” Michel said.