Lilian Thuram Visit

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We were lucky to have Lilian Thuram for a week-long residency at Duke November 9-13, 2009. During that time, he participated in a conversation with Achille Mbembe and Laurent Dubois at the Nasher Museum, which you can watch or download here. Here’s how one attendee described the event.  The visit was accompanied by a tropical storm which seems to have been a big fan of Thuram — it arrived just as he did, and hung around until precisely the moment when his airplane took off from RDU airport on Saturday midday.

On Tuesday morning, after arriving from France the night before, Thuram visited with the Duke Men’s soccer team during one of their practices. That afternoon, we visited Staggsville plantation as well as SEEDS in Durham, in the company of Professor Thavolia Glymph of Duke University and Pierce Freelon,a local musician and scholar who teaches at UNC. While we were on the move in Durham, Freelon did an interview with Thuram, which is posted on his website Blackademics and also below.

On Wednesday, after a morning visit to the Franklin Humanities Center, we traveled to the ACC tournament at Wake-Med Stadium in Cary and visited with the Carolina Railhawks. That afternoon, he spoke to a packed crowd at North Carolina Central University, fielding a range of questions about politics, immigration, and race. Here’s how one attendee described the event.

On Thursday, Thuram met with leaders from the Durham for Obama campaign to learn about cross-racial organizing in Durham, then visited two classes at Duke: Laurent Dubois’ “World Cup and World Politics” class and a seminar taught by Dubois and Achille Mbembe, ‘The Archives of the French Empire.” After a dinner out — during which Thuram made one local fan very happy — we attended the Urban Bush Woman performance at Duke.

Finally, on Friday — thanks to the help of LeAnne Disla of Duke University — we visited three schools in Durham. At Shepherd Middle School, Thuram spoke to students and then met with teachers about their approaches to dealing with racial stereotypes and discrimination in the classroom. At Durham School for the Arts, he answered questions from students before being thronged by a crowd demanding he sign jerseys, shoes, Chivas backpacks, scraps of paper, and pretty much anything that would take ink — even a Real Madrid jersey one kid offered the former Barcelona defender. At Hillside High School, we learned about different programs from teachers and administrators, as well as two Francophone Cameroonian students who attended the school. We discussed plans for possible teacher exchanges and other future projects during these meetings.

Thuram left with an open invitation to return, which we hope he will take up in not too long.

— Laurent Dubois

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