Campus events bring focus to Black History Month

Word cloud image with Black Power salute

February brings with it Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and recognition for the role of African Americans in U.S. history. Across the UO campus, a variety of public events are planned.

"Voices: Black in Oregon" is the theme for the UO Division of Equity and Inclusion’s annual Black Heritage Month Signature Event on Thursday, Feb. 16. The event, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Ford Alumni Center's Giustina Ballroom, is meant to encourage unity and be both educational and celebratory for students, faculty and staff.

There will be food as well as information about Oregon black pioneer history, black activism and history at UO. Also planned are several genres of music, dance and spoken-word performances. A dance party will close the evening. Those who plan to attend are encouraged to RSVP online and fill out a short questionnaire about special needs and food allergies.

The Division of Equity and Inclusion also has published a listing of other Black History Month events. Last month, the division also presented the 2017 Martin Luther King awards to UO individuals and organizations for their efforts to spark changes that help bring about the civil rights leader’s vision of a more just and tolerant community.

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the School of Law's Derrick Bell Lecture Series will feature a talk by Barbara Arnwine, president and founder of the international Transformative Justice Coalition. Arnwine's talk will begin at 4 p.m. in Room 175 of the Knight Law Center.

She is the Charles Hamilton Houston Chair at North Carolina Central University School of Law and an instructor at Columbia Law School. Her work has focused on women’s rights, immigrant rights, judicial diversity, criminal justice reform, racial profiling, health care disparities and LBGTQ rights.

The lecture series honors Bell, who from 1980 to 1985 was the first African-American to serve as dean of the law school. He wrote extensively about race in the United States and challenged the academic institutions he served to commit to diversity.

Two Black History Month symposiums are planned by the Center for the Study of Women in Society.

From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, a symposium on “Gender, Sexuality, and Leisure in Africa” will feature scholars whose work focuses on different regions of Africa. They will discuss their contributions to an edited volume focused on issues of leisure and expressive culture in lives of women and men in Africa and around the world. The speakers come from Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Malawi, Belgium and the U.S. The event will be in Knight Library Browsing Room.

The second event will feature special guest Ayana Mathis, author of the novel “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie." Her book, a New York Times bestseller and an Oprah Book Club selection, will be highlighted in a panel discussion from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 3, in the Ford Lecture Hall of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Her visit is part the center's annual Northwest Women Writers Symposium “Women and Work: Women’s Stories of Work and the Great Migration.” Mathis will deliver the symposium's keynote address and sign copies of the book at a two-hour event that begins at 6 p.m. the same day at the Eugene Public Library.

Continuing through March 29 in the Architecture and Allied Arts Library in Lawrence Hall is the exhibit "You Must Never Look Away from This," a collection of books inspired by this year's UO common reading selection, "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. On Feb. 17, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., visitors are encouraged to drop into the library for the related event "Tell a Story: Make and Explore Artists' Books."

A Feb. 3 lecture by Coates has sold out, but there is still an opportunity for standby seating the day of the event. Coates is the School of Journalism and Communication's 2017 Ruhl Lecturer. The talk is at 6 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and ticket holders are asked enter the venue by 5:30 p.m. Tickets unused by 5:30 p.m. will be released to people waiting at Matthew Knight Arena. A free live stream of the event will be available at 6 p.m. in Room 156, Straub Hall with first-come, first-served seating.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 6 to 8 p.m., the UO's Labor Education and Research Center will host a Black History Month event, "All Labor Has Dignity: A Historical Perspective, 1968 to 2016," at UO Portland's White Stag Building, 70 N.W. Couch St. The event will be simulcast to the UO campus for viewing in Studio A in the lower level of the Knight Library.

Speakers will be William Lucy, who helped lead the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for 57 years, and Michael Honey, who teaches African-American, civil rights and labor history at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

Lucy collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tennessee. He is also a founding member and former president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Honey's new documentary, "Love and Solidarity," which highlights the life of the Rev. James Lawson, a champion of civil and workers' rights, also will be shown.

The UO Libraries also has posted a webpage devoted to resources related to black history.