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VCU announces month of thought-provoking events to celebrate Black History Month

Featured photo
Angela Davis.
Photo by Nick Wiebe

Iconic activist, writer and educator Angela Davis, National Book Award-winning author Colson Whitehead and rapper and Public Enemy member Professor Griff will visit Virginia Commonwealth University in February as part of the university’s celebration of Black History Month.

The month’s events will also feature discussion panels, arts and cultural events, and public lectures, all designed to spark thought and conversation related to the history of the black experience in the United States.

“It is my hope that everyone can find a program or event that excites them and moves them to learn and engage others around their unique perspectives and ideas,” said Yolanda Avent, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs in the Division of Students Affairs at VCU. “Black History Month is a time to celebrate, educate and inspire the community and to acknowledge the rich history of African-Americans’ contributions to society.”

All of the events will be free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Davis, who has been an activist on behalf of women’s rights, racial justice, prisoners’ rights and more since the 1960s, will deliver a lecture Feb. 24 in the Commonwealth Ballroom of University Student Commons. She will address the current racial, political and economic climate, in addition to her own perspective as an activist and scholar. Tickets will be required to attend this event and will be available only for VCU faculty, staff, and students at VCU's Break Point (907 Floyd Avenue) from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Feb. 1 through Feb. 17. Faculty, staff, and students will only be able to receive one ticket. Tickets will be made available to the general public on Feb. 18. 

Colson Whitehead.
Colson Whitehead.

Whitehead is the author of two works of nonfiction and six novels, including The New York Times Best Seller “The Underground Railroad,” which won the 2016 National Book Award for fiction in November.

He will deliver the 15th annual VCU Libraries Black History Month Lecture on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at James Branch Cabell Library. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and registration is available at www.library.vcu.edu/about/events/black-history-month/black-history-month-lecture-2017.html.

“Over 15 years of Black History Month programs, VCU Libraries has explored a wide range of issues related to African-American history and to race relations, from the courage and activism of local civil rights leaders to presentations by national leaders such as commentator Melissa Harris-Perry and Innocence Project co-founder Peter Neufeld,” said University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider. “This year, VCU Libraries highlights the intersection of literature, scholarship and black history in a reading and talk by Colson Whitehead.”

On Feb. 1, Zoe Spencer, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, social work and criminal justice at Virginia State University, will deliver the keynote lecture at VCU’s Black History Month kickoff event featuring music, food and networking at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

“I always let the ancestors guide my words and the audience’s energy to create the space to provide them in,” Spencer said. “However, during this critical time in race relations, I think it’s imperative that we use the allotment and symbolism of Black History Month to begin to rewrite the fallacy that ‘Black’ History begins with enslavement in America, to break the stereotypes of what being black really means, and to bring the truths about the great and vast contributions of black people, civilizations and the beauty of resistance and struggle to the stage. I hope that is where I will be led.”

Professor Griff, a member of the legendary hip-hop group Public Enemy, will visit campus Feb. 21. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Black History Mobile Museum will be on display in the Virginia Rooms of University Student Commons, and the rapper will deliver a public lecture at the exhibit at noon.

For the third year, VCU’s Black History Month will also feature the Diversity Scholars in Research Week, which will take place Feb. 13 through Feb. 16.

“The Diversity Scholars in Research Week celebrates the diversity of scholarship among our undergraduate, graduate and professional students, as well as showcasing the passion and intensity they invest in their scholarship/research,” Avent said. “There will be a week of activities including an exhibition, workshops, luncheon, keynote speaker and networking opportunities. Please come and support the amazing diversity of scholarship at VCU.”

Yet another highlight will be a community conversation titled “Racial Disproportionality, School Discipline and Future Directions” on Feb. 6, featuring local youth, artists, organizers and scholars who will discuss racial disproportionality in school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline. The event, sponsored by the VCU School of Education, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. in the University Student Commons Theater. For the full agenda, visit www.soe.vcu.edu/aboutus/calendar/discipline.php.

“By bringing together talented local youth and spoken word artists with researchers from the School of Education, we hope this community event will spark an important conversation about the challenges related to racial disproportionality in school discipline and its connection to the school-to-prison-pipeline,” said Adai Tefera, Ph.D., assistant professor and chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee in the School of Education.

Also this year, there will be the second annual African American Read In, a community organizing workshop, a cultural excursion to Washington, D.C., several panel discussions and a spades tournament.

The full schedule is below. For additional information, visit www.omsa.vcu.edu.


 

Hump Day Dialogue on “The Public Consumption of Black Women’s Bodies and Space,” with Yolanda Avent, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
Date: Feb. 1
Time: Noon–2 p.m.
Location: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Student Commons, room 215 
Sponsor: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

VCU’s Black History Month Kickoff, featuring keynote lecture by Zoe Spencer, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, social work and criminal justice at Virginia State University
Date: Feb. 1
Time: 6–8 p.m.
Location: Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, 122 W. Leigh St., Richmond
Sponsor: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

First Friday Kickoff
Date: Feb. 3
Time: Noon–2 p.m.
Location: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Student Commons, room 215
Sponsors: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Black Student Union, Collegiate 100, and the National Panhellenic Council

Social Justice Community Organizing Teach In
Date: Feb. 4
Time: 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Location: TBD
Sponsors: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Intercultural Festival at VCU

Racial Disproportionality, School Discipline and Future Directions: A Community Conversation
Date: Feb. 6
Time: 4-5:30 p.m. symposium; 5:30-6:30 p.m. reception; 4-7 p.m. art installation
Location: University Student Commons Theater
Sponsor: VCU School of Education
More info: www.soe.vcu.edu/aboutus/calendar/discipline.php

Being Black at a Predominately White Institution Panel
Date: Feb. 6
Time: 6–7:30 p.m.
Location: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Student Commons, room 215
Sponsors: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Academic Advising

The Black Artist in Perspective: Aniekan Udofia
Date: Feb. 8
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: The Depot, 814 W Broad St.
Sponsor: Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences

Spades Tournament
Date: Feb. 8
Time: 6–9 p.m.
Location: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Student Commons, room 215
Sponsors: Black Student Union and Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

African American Read In
Date: Feb. 9
Time: 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Location: Common Ground in University Student Commons
Sponsors: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, VCU Libraries

15th Annual VCU Library Black History Month Lecture Series with Colson Whitehead, author of “The Underground Railroad”
Date: Feb. 9
Time: 7–9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: James Branch Cabell Library, Lecture Hall (Room 303)
Sponsor: VCU Libraries
To register, visit www.library.vcu.edu/about/events/black-history-month/black-history-month-lecture-2017.html

Diversity Scholars in Research Week
Dates: Feb. 13–Feb. 16
Time: Multiple Times
Location: University Student Commons
Sponsors: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Office of Career Services, Department of African American Studies, Office of Research and Innovation, the Division for Health Sciences Diversity, the Center for Health Disparities, VCU LSAMP and the Black Graduate Student Association

Black History in the Making Awards Ceremony
Date: Feb. 15
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: The Depot, 814 W Broad St.
Note: At this annual event, students who have been nominated by their departments will be honored for their achievements.
Sponsor: Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences

Real Life Film Series: “Soul Food Junkies”
Date: Feb. 16
Time: 12–1 p.m.
Location: The TML Learning Center @ Hunton, Room 209
Sponsors: VCU Libraries and University Student Commons and ActivitiesTo register, visit www.library.vcu.edu/about/events/2016-17/real-film-2016-17.html

Questioning Cinema: “Loving”
Date: Feb. 16
Time: Film screening at 5 p.m., Discussion at 7:15 p.m.
Location: James Branch Cabell Library, Lecture Hall (Room 303)
Sponsor: VCU Libraries
To register, visit www.library.vcu.edu/about/events/2016-17/questioning-cinema---loving.html

Screening of Ava DuVernay’s film “13th,” which explores the connections between American incarceration and slavery
Date: Feb 18
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: MCALC 1107

Black History Mobile Museum and Lecture featuring Professor Griff from the rap group Public Enemy
Date: Feb. 21
Time: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Location: University Student Commons, Virginia Rooms A–D
Sponsor: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

Black Alumni Career Panel
Date: Feb. 22
Time: 6–7:30 p.m.
Location: University Student Commons, Virginia Rooms A and B
Sponsors: The African American Alumni Council, Career Services, and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

American political activist, academic scholar and author Angela Davis
Date: Feb. 24
Time: 5–6 p.m.
Location: University Student Commons, Commonwealth Ballroom
Sponsors: Afrikana Film Festival and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
Note: Tickets will be required to attend this event and will be available only for VCU faculty, staff, and students at VCU's Break Point (907 Floyd Avenue) from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Feb. 1 through Feb. 17. Faculty, staff, and students will only be able to receive one ticket. Tickets will be made available to the general public on Feb. 18. 

Black History Month Cultural Excursion
Date: Feb. 25
Time: 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Sponsors: Black Student Union and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
Note: Transportation will be provided. Registration is required. To register, email omsa@vcu.edu or call 828-6672.

“Rosenwald” Film Screening
Date: Feb. 28
Time: 6–8 p.m.
Location: Academic Learning Commons, room 1107
Sponsors: Jewish Student Association, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and VCU Libraries

 

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