Authors Seek To Launch Lecture Series On Race: Rooting for Tarzan

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Authors Robert Pellegrino and Michael A. Jefferson present a unique approach of the unvarnished truth about the socialization of whites and blacks in America through a lecture series called "Rooting for Tarzan"

Authors Robert Pellegrino and Michael A. Jefferson share experiences of race during a conversation in New Haven, CT

Our aim is to make the conversation one of the most honest discussions about race that a person has ever heard.

On April 20 Robert Pellegrino, author of I See Color and Michael A. Jefferson, author of Deo Vindice: The Resurrection, launched the first in what they hope will become a series of lecture presentations entitled Rooting for Tarzan: The Socialization of Blacks and Whites In American Society. The opening event was held at Lyric Hall in New Haven, Connecticut.

The two lawyers reside in New Haven, Connecticut have been best friends for nearly thirty years. According to both men, the project has been in the works for a long time. "We've been eager to have an honest, candid and thorough dialogue about race for years," said Pellegrino

The discussion was also presented April 26, at the University of Connecticut's - Waterbury Branch. "We love speaking to college audiences because many in that crowd represent the future generation. Their minds are still open and they are willing to hear what we are attempting to convey," said Jefferson. "But we feel it's also imperative to have dialogue with teachers and other professionals who are seeking to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of race in American society."

The hope is to help professionals, particularly those who work in professions that impact individuals of color, improve the delivery of services in their own professional spheres by having honest and candid discussions from a black and white perspective. The authors believe their efforts can lead to a considerable improvement in race relations.

"The presentation was phenomenal. I never heard the issue of race discussed in such a way," said Larry Conaway, president of the Conaway Endowment Fund and the principal of New Light High School in New Haven, Connecticut. Conaway, who attended the opening night lecture presentation said, "every school system in America should find a way to put this presentation on their professional development agenda."

Both men attribute the title of their presentation - Rooting for Tarzan, to their experience as young children watching reruns of the classic film Tarzan the Ape Man starring Johnny Weissmuller - a white actor and Maureen O'Sullivan - a white actress. The original film was released to moviegoers nationwide in 1932. It was the first of twelve movies starring Weissmuller as Tarzan -"king" of the jungle.

The plot involved a group from England on a safari somewhere in Africa searching for a mysterious elephant graveyard. The group is subsequently captured by a hostile native tribe of pygmies. Tarzan subsequently rescues the group.

The film made millions and Tarzan became a hero to millions of white and presumably black moviegoers. The idea of blacks rooting for Tarzan might seem strange to some, particularly since the movie depicts the African natives in such a humiliating light. However, not unlike today, most everyone cheers for the "hero" - even black moviegoers.

Pellegrino believes Tarzan and other movies of that era served as the foundation for the socialization of blacks and whites through the powerful medium of film. "Casting whites as the bravest, smartest, prettiest, sexiest, and strongest helped to perpetuate the false sense of superiority that has long enveloped the white psyche," said Pellegrino.

Conversely, "by casting blacks as ignorant, lazy, unattractive, unintelligent, and weak has served to perpetuate the false sense of inferiority within the black psyche," said Jefferson. According to both men, the presentation seeks to confront these two outcomes of the racial socialization process that millions have undergone in American society for time immemorial.

Relying on extensive knowledge obtained from reading scores of books, articles, and essays the two attorneys share personal and professional experiences of the highly controversial subject matter. With surgical precision they provide their audience with a thorough analysis of the problem and offer sound solutions for addressing what they call America's ancient sin.

"Rooting for Tarzan" is a must see presentation for all who are concerned about the future of race relations in American society.

To schedule a presentation or book signing call (203) 623-6276 or (203) 605-3844

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