A yellow squiggly shape at the top and a red squiggly shape at the bottom. In the middle text reads \"BLACK HISTORY MONTH FEBRUARY 2023\"
Black History Month at VCU will feature a wide variety of events and activities. (Getty Images

An overview of 2023 Black History Month events and activities at VCU

February’s lineup includes a wide range of opportunities for students, staff, faculty and the community.

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Black History Month at Virginia Commonwealth University this month will feature a film screening, author talks, a discussion of heart health and the story of Black music, among many other planned events and activities.

Below is a sampling of the events being held this year. In addition, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at VCU maintains a list of Black History Month events for students and others that can be found here.

Travel and African American Imagination: A Conversation between Michael Ra-shon Hall and Kimberly Nichele Brown

Feb. 6, noon, on Zoom

The speakers for this event are Michael Ra-shon Hall, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at VCU, and Kimberly Nichele Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of gender, sexuality and women’s studies at VCU. This virtual event features an open conversation between Hall and Brown, both of whose interdisciplinary scholarship centers African American literature and culture. Delving into Hall’s scholarship, this conversation will focus on travel’s lasting imprint on the black press and periodicals, literary fiction (and creative expression broadly), and cultural history.

Register here.

Voices for Change – Best Practices & Innovations in Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

Feb. 8, noon, VCU College of Health Professions, Room 1050

As a workplace equity educator and inclusion advocate, Adrienne Lawrence does more than just talk. The former litigator-turned-VP and senior consultant for Jennifer Brown Consulting is passionate about reaching professionals through informative, thought-provoking conversation. Lawrence is author of  a book titled “Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment,” which won several awards and was heralded as a must-read for every woman in the workplace.


‘Central Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane’ Film Screening and Discussion

An old photo of Central State Hospital
Central State Hospital, formerly known as the Central Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane, opened in 1869 as the first psychiatric facility in the U.S. to exclusively treat African American patients. (Photo courtesy of the 2022 documentary, "The Central Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane," by Shawn Utsey)

Feb. 15, 4-5:30 p.m., Commons Theater, University Student Commons

Join the Humanities Research Center, in collaboration with History & Health, the Office of Health Equity, for a film screening and discussion of the documentary “Central Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane,” with Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., filmmaker and professor of psychology in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.

In 1869, the Central State Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane in Petersburg opened, becoming the first psychiatric facility in the U.S. to exclusively treat African American patients. This documentary film illuminates the history of the hospital, as well as the history of mental health treatment for African Americans with a focus on the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and Emancipation. Read more about the film.

Register online.

Improving Your Heart Health: A webinar with AAAC and VCU alum Jovonni Spinner, Ph.D.

Feb. 15, 5 p.m., on Zoom

With February designated as both American Heart Month and Black History Month, it is an opportune time to call attention to rising cardiovascular disease mortality and the need to reduce health care disparities in the Black community. Join the VCU African American Alumni Council and Jovonni Spinner, Ph.D., a VCU alum and founder and CEO of Beacon Public Health, for a conversation about heart health and steps you can take now to prevent future heart disease.

Register on Zoom.

Centering Black Joy

Feb. 16, 5-7 p.m., OMSA office, University Student Commons

A mindful crafting activity that will celebrate Black joy and provide a place to connect through creativity. Participants will have the opportunity to create a reflection bracelet, where each bead correlates to something about the Black community that brings them joy. Due to space limitations, attendance will be capped at 20 participants. Pizza, drinks and craft materials provided. Hosted by RecWell with OMSA.

Register online.

TEDxVCU Salon: Black Voices

Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m., The Underground, University Student Commons

Participate in thoughtful discussions on three empowering TED Talks that celebrate African culture and Black joy. Snacks and drinks will be provided.     

Register online.                                                                                                            

Being My Own Boss x Philly Vegan

Feb. 20, 5-6 p.m., OMSA office, University Student Commons

A panel discussion with Samuel Veney (Philly Vegan co-owner) discussing their career path, the challenges involved, as well as sampling some of their menu items. Limited to 30 guests.

Register online.                 

Black & Abroad

Feb. 20, 7-8:30 p.m., Commonwealth Ballroom A, University Student Commons

Join VCU's Education Abroad and OMSA for a storytelling event that offers space for Black students and students of color to share their experiences studying, traveling and being abroad. This event is open to all students interested in discussing and reflecting on study and travel abroad through the lens of identity. In addition to desserts sponsored by OMSA, Education Abroad will be raffling a $500 study abroad voucher.

Register online.

Growing Kale, Shifting Power and Building Food Sovereignty

Feb. 21, 6-9 p.m., Institute for Contemporary Art

Malik Yakini will share some of his experiences and lessons learned in co-founding the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.

Register online.

The book cover of “Memories of a Tuskegee Airmen Nurse and Her Military Sisters”
“Memories of a Tuskegee Airmen Nurse and Her Military Sisters” (publishing June 2023).

‘Memories of a Tuskegee Airmen Nurse and Her Military Sisters’

Feb. 22, 6 p.m., hosted virtually by VCU Alumni

Join VCU Alumni to hear from author Pia Jordan as she previews her forthcoming novel, “Memories of a Tuskegee Airmen Nurse and Her Military Sisters” (publishing June 2023), which tells the story of the Army Nurse Corps members who served with the Tuskegee Airmen at Tuskegee Army Air Field during World War II. Jordan’s mother, Louise Virginia Lomax Winters, a first lieutenant, one of those nurses and a graduate of the Saint Philip School of Nursing.

Register to attend

Black & Queer @ VCU: A Conversation and Mixer

Feb. 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m., OMSA office, University Student Commons

A two-part event for the Black and queer community at VCU. The first part will feature a panel discussion exploring identity, navigating family dynamics, dating and more. The second will be a mixer for Black faculty, staff and students. Dinner will be served.                   

Register online.        

VCU Libraries 2023 Black History Month Lecture: Dwandalyn R. Reece

A woman wearing a red shirt standing in front of a red convertible car.
Dwandalyn R. Reece, Ph.D., associate director for curatorial affairs at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will speak at VCU on Feb. 23. (Contributed photo)

Feb 23, 7-9 p.m., James Branch Cabell Library Lecture Hall

Dwandalyn R. Reece, Ph.D., the visionary museum curator behind the Musical Crossroads exhibit and musical programs at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will bring the story of Black music to VCU as VCU Libraries 2023 Black History Month Lecturer.

The event will be livestreamed and is free and open to the public. Registration for in-person and Zoom attendance is available hereRead more about the event.

Black Excellence in Healthcare Leadership

Feb. 24, noon to 1 p.m., hosted virtually by the VCU College of Health Professions

The National Association of Health Services Executives and the VCU Department of Health Administration have partnered to offer a webinar series to advance inclusive leadership education. The Black History Month webinar, titled “Black Excellence in Healthcare Leadership,” will feature accomplished Black health care leaders and incorporate diverse generational perspectives. Two of the panelists are alums of the VCU Department of Health Administration, Michael Elliott, PharmD, the inaugural system chief operating officer for VCU Health, and Chelsea Perry, co-founder of Appcelerator and MBA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.

Register to attend.

Truth, Reckoning, and Reconciliation: Nursing's Past, Present, and Future

Feb. 27, noon to 1 p.m., VCU School of Nursing

Katie Boston-Leary, Ph.D., the director of nursing programs at the American Nurses Association overseeing the Nursing Practice and Work Environment Division and Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation and co-lead for Project Firstline, a multimillion-dollar grant collaborative with the CDC for training on Infection Prevention and Control, will deliver a lecture on understanding “nursism,” racism and its role in the history of nursing, the potential for an antiracist practice climate to foster inclusive excellence and strengthen strategies to address social determinants of health.

Register to attend virtually

Black Girl Table Talk

Feb. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m., OMSA, University Student Commons

A night of intimate “real talk” in honor of Black History Month. Black women will discuss issues that impact, influence and affect them. Space is limited and registration is required. Hosted by University Student Counseling Services and OMSA.

Register online.