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Sababu C. Norris

He was born in Leesville, SC.
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Sababu C. Norris is an administrator, educator, poet, choreopoem-playwright, and a workshop facilitator on topics related to African American student issues in higher education and cross-cultural topics in general. Norris serves in the Canisius College Division of Student Affairs as director of the College's Office of Multicultural Programs. He has headed this office since its inception in 1989. He is responsible for assisting this Jesuit institution in designing and implementing co-curricular cross-cultural endeavors that serve to enhance the College environment for African American, Latino/Latina American, Asian American, and Native American students (ALANA). A few of Norris' many campus accomplishments are the creation of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Award; an MLK Buffalo High School Poetry Contest; the former MLK Canisius Speaker series (which included the late Ms. Yolanda King, the late Mr. Ossie Davis, and Ms. Susan Taylor of Essence Magazine); a campus-wide student race relations team composed of faculty and staff; and a Canisius Student Success Guide for students of color. He is the architect of the College's ALANA Internship Program, which requires the ALANA intern to assist first-year students of color by helping them to connect to the College through their participation in campus-wide activities. This program was formed in1993 thanks to the efforts of Canisius College Professor Emeritus Jesse E. Nash, Jr. and the financial support of the Nicholas Patterson Perpetual Fund of WNY.

Norris initiated a campus-wide committee to commission select artists to create art exclusively for Canisius reflecting different cultural heritages. Presently, three works are on permanent display in the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library, including an MLK portrait by Buffalo's William Y. Cooper. He created and directs the Canisius College Performance Troupe which performs poetry and dramatic scenes at area high schools and colleges. One goal of the Troupe's work is to address the needs and concerns of students who have trouble seeing the value of completing their education both at the high school and college level. Norris holds an M.A. degree (1982) in Theatre and Drama from Indiana University (IU), where his focus was Dramatic Literature, Criticism, and African American Theatre. While pursuing his Master's degree at IU, he was mentored by and served as Research Assistant to Professor Emerita Dr. Winona L. Fletcher. Dr. Fletcher coordinated the Black College Technical Assistance Project of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. The mentor and mentee relationship continues. Norris attended the Black Theatre Network 20th Anniversary Conference in Louisville, KY (July 29, 2006), at which Dr. Fletcherwas honored and a permanent exhibit of her papers was opened. Norris spent much of the summer assisting in the cataloging of Fletcher's papers for the permanent exhibition in the Kentucky State University Center for Excellence in the Study of Kentucky African Americans."1

For over seven summers, Norris served as the coordinator of IU's Upward Bound Performance Program where he also taught acting and oral interpretation. He directed approximately 100 high school students in an annual production; initiated and served as advisor to IU's Greek-Letter organizations that raised funds to commission an artist to create a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A picture of the artwork, with IU student leaders and Mr. Martin Luther King, III witnessing the unveiling on IU's campus, appeared in Jet Magazine (1987). This portrait is on permanent display in the world's largest student union on IU's Bloomington campus. As a result of his efforts, Norris received IU's Interfraternity Council and Pan-Hellenic Association Award for Outstanding Service to the MLK Project. A native of Leesville, South Carolina, Norris completed his undergraduate studies, cum laude, in Secondary Education and Theater Arts at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina (1979). During his undergraduate years, he and playwright Judi Ann Mason-Williams, who was also an undergraduate student at the time, attending Grambling State University, served as editors of Fahari, a book of prose and poetry published by the National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts (NADSA). While student teaching in North Carolina at a junior high school, Norris directed the play, The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne/Robert Brome. The one-act play, in competition with 32 public school drama presentations, won overall rating of Distinction," the highest state level award.

At Shaw, where he was actively involved in campus student leadership roles, he received the University's Superior Leadership in Student Affairs Award. Before matriculating at the historically Black institution, he began part of his creative development in New York City, where, at the age of seventeen, he became one of the youngest volunteer WBAI-FM Pacifica Radio producers under the auspices of the Third World Communication Vanguard. He also produced and directed a two-hour live program called, Composition Live, which featured such public figures as comedian and actor Jimmie JJ" Walker, singers and songwriters Nick Ashford and Valeria Simpson, New York Times critic Clayton Riley, and actress Anna Horsford, later known for her starring role opposite Sherman Hemsley in the TV series, The Amen Corner. Norris served on the theatre faculties of Hampton University (HU), and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). At HU, he was also the faculty advisor to the Hampton Players and Company. One of his former HU students, Ms. Ruth Carter, is currently the only African American to have been nominated for an Oscar in the costume category for her work on Spike Lee's Malcolm X and Steven Spielberg's Amistad.As an Assistant Professor of Theatre at UTC, Norris directed a choreopoem-play which also appeared on Chattanooga's WDEF-TV program, Point of View.Norris received community awards from Chattanooga, including a Jack and Jill appreciation award" for directing a skit which featured several Chattanooga high school students; the skit was performed at a national conference sponsored by Jack and Jill, Inc.

Norris taught the first acting course at Canisius College as an Assistant Professor. Because of his dedication to the performing arts, Norris invited the Buffalo, NY Ujima Theatre Company's Executive Director, Ms. Lorna Hill, to direct the play, We Ain't' What We Was, at Canisius College. He introduced S. Pearl Sharp's musical, The SiStuhs, to Buffalo's African American Cultural Center where the play was showcased at the Paul Roberson Theatre. Norris' professional and community activities include serving as a committee member of the Buffalo NAACP's ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics). Since 1994, in acting and oratory, he coaches local ACT-SO high school winners, preparing them for the national competition. In 2002, he coached a local winner who competed at the national NAACP Convention and won the gold medal in oratory. He coached a Canisius College student in the talent category of the 2007 Miss Buffalo Scholarship Competition, which helped the student to achieve third place in the competition; and served as a judge for the 2007 Young Miss Buffalo Pageant Scholarship and Enrichment Program, Inc. Norris also serves on the Regrant Committee of the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County and is an active member of Leadership Buffalo (Class of '04). He initiated and helped organized a three-year college (pilot) program in association with Leadership Buffalo called Leadership Canisius, which exposed students of color to various occupational opportunities in government, business, and not-for-profit sectors of the region." 2 This project was conceived by U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott, who serves on the Canisius College Board of Trustees. Norris was a former scholarship committee member of Buffalo's Education Task Force under the umbrella of the Community Action Organization (CAO).

In 1993, he was a founding member of the former Western New York Coalition of Multicultural and Minority Offices in Higher Education, which included participation from Buffalo State College, Canisius College, D'Youville College, Medaille College, Niagara County Community College, Niagara University, and the University at Buffalo. The Coalition accepted an invitation to present its coalition model in Atlanta, GA, at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE). At NCORE, Norris and a Buffalo State College colleague were trained in co-facilitating a 2-hour cross-cultural workshop called Country A & Country Z, created by two Pace University administrators. Norris regularly presents this engaging workshop at Canisius College and is often invited to present it at Buffalo State College and the University at Buffalo. This workshop was presented to the Leadership Buffalo Class of 2004. For four elected years, Norris served as Treasurer of the National Conference on Multicultural Affairs of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, representing 28 Jesuit institutions throughout America. For two consecutive years the organization presented him with awards for outstanding service and dedication. Norris' poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including The Buffalo Challenger; NAACP's Buffalo Newsletter; NJOZI Magazine (Buffalo); Canisius College's Afro-American Society's Nia News; Hampton University's Hi Lites; Indiana University's Black Focus; Dawn Magazine; The Black American; Fahari; New York Free Press; What Black Educators Are Saying; Encore: American World Wide News Magazine; Liberation Magazine; and Black Masks: Spotlight on Black Art. Mr. Macy Favor, host of the University at Buffalo's WBFO-88.7FM, Jazz Favorites, invited Norris to read his poetry.

he Special Arts Services Program of the New York State Council on the Arts also invited Norris to read at the Buffalo Arts Studio, Tri-Main Center. One of his poems received the Silver Poet Award from the World of Poetry, Sacramento, CA, (1985). Norris' choreopoem-plays have been staged at Hampton University, Shaw University, and WBAI-FM/Studio C (New York City). His scholarly Examination of the reviews by white critics of Lonne Elder's play, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men," was published in ENCORE: The Magazine of the Theatre (1982). The late internationally renowned Mr. Babatunde Olatunji of the Olatunji Center of African Culture, New York City, wrote in 1972 of Norris' poetry: the veil has been lifted off his face. That he is aware of the problems, sufferings and tribulations of black folks yet determined to be somebody, that you and I cannot afford to yield to daily temptations, loosen our guards, succumb to false promises; nor can we listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy." Norris is a recipient of the Canisius College Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award (1999) and Black Opinion Magazine's Black Achievers Award (1992). In 1993, he was selected through a competitive national process to participate in Vassar College's five-day Institute for outstanding college administrators in higher education, on the recommendation of Canisius College. This program was sponsored by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Norris is included in Who's Who in American Education (1996-1997) and Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, Shaw University (1978-1979); and a recipient of the Outstanding Young Men of America Award (1981) for which he was nominated by author, actress, and independent film maker Ms. S. Pearl Sharp of Los Angeles, California.

Norris is a life-member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; an Honorary Renaissance Brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Inc.; and a member of Buffalo's Calvary Baptist Church. An alumnus of Forth Hamilton High School, Brooklyn, NY, Sababu C. Norris is enrolled in Master Khechen's School of Tae Kwon-Do (martial arts), Buffalo, NY. IU Theatre & Drama Department's Stages, (Winter 2006-07). Leadership Canisius Brochure.