Serving to empower Black students to seek higher education, especially at an HBCU, the hit show has approached its 35th Anniversary. In lieu, Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. has reunited the cast for a panel discussion on changes in racial climate, culture, and society, posing the question–do we still live in ‘a different world’?
In attendance were cast members, Cree Summer, voice of Rugrats’ iconic Suzy Carmichael, Kadeem Hardison, Jasmine Guy, and Darryl M. Bell, co-stars in Spike Lee’s School Daze.
They remained open-minded and heartfelt in this installment of Kean’s President’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which introduces thought leaders to the University community to promote intellectually stimulating discourse regarding various scholarly topics.
Moderated by the Director of the Office of Accessibility Services, Chantonette Lyles, the discussion started by acknowledging Black Greek Letter Organizations for their philanthropic contributions to the educational advancement of Black students.
Then, a clip was screened, introducing our first topic of the evening. ‘No Means No’, the 20th episode of season 2, sparked necessary dialogue about sexual misconduct, especially on college campuses.
Following the tough conversation, Kean reminded its students that they are seen, loved, and well-supported with a plethora of free, posted resources designed to foster all-around student wellness.
Furthermore, the next episode screened was the 16th episode of season 3, ‘A World Alike’, which explored South African Apartheid. Deliberation over the importance of presenting such a topic to the Black youth ensued, due to its similarity to current events and race relations today.
Finally, the last clip presented was the deeply moving episode on racism, episode 14 of the 5th season, ‘The Cat’s in the Cradle’. One of the most-viewed episodes, it brought about talks of systemic racism and allyship.
A Different World was known for its positive, accurate, and at times, radical portrayals of Black characters and culture, undertaking topics such as race and class, politics, activism, advocacy, and AIDS. Many of these topics were censored on television. Still, the cast praised preeminent creator Bill Cosby and co-producers Debbie Allen, of Grey’s Anatomy and Yvette Lee Bowser, of the hit shows Living Single and Half & Half, for their relentless fight to ensure that these stories were told.
On representation in Television, Cree Summer, who played Freddie on the show, remarked that it enabled people of color to “turn on the TV and see people who look like them”.
Closing out the night was President Repollet, a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., joined by his wife and daughter, Darlene and Lauryn Repollet, both members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Next at Kean
Following the A Different World panel discussion, the next President’s Distinguished Lecture Series event at Kean will feature Lauren Ridloff, a Tony-nominated Deaf actress, and a previous speaker at Kean’s Commencement ceremony.
That event is on Monday, December 11, 2023, at 5 pm at the Liberty Hall Academic Center. Once released, general public tickets will be $20 each.
Kean employees, students, and alumni receive one complimentary ticket, obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.