Black History Month at U.Va. Features Talks by Mary Frances Berry and Bobby Seale

Jan. 30, 2007 -- Mary Frances Berry, former U.S. civil rights commissioner and longtime activist, will speak at the University of Virginia on Feb. 15 in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium at 7 p.m. Berry is the keynote speaker for Black History Month and heads the list of several notable visitors and events being held at the University.

Co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, will discuss the history and impact of the militant group on Feb. 22 in Harrison-Small Auditorium.

Dr. Maurice Apprey, interim dean of the Office of American-American Affairs, will present the annual State of the Office of African-American Affairs address on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Rotunda Dome Room.

Emory University professor Jacqueline Jordan Irvine will talk about “The Black-White Test Score Gap” on Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. in the Rotunda Dome Room.

In addition, the U.Va. drama department will stage the play, “The African Company Presents Richard III” by Carlyle Brown, and directed by new U.Va. faculty member Theresa Davis, at Culbreth Theatre Feb. 15-17 and Feb. 21-24.

In other events, students will discuss the history and current state of black student leadership at U.Va. on Feb. 13 and Feb. 28, respectively.

All events, except the play, are free and open to the public.

For the complete Black History Month calendar, see

Mary Frances Berry
“Race, Gender and the New Political Landscape”
Feb. 15, Cabell Hall Auditorium, 7 p.m.

During Mary Frances Berry’s distinguished career in public service, she served as commissioner and later chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004, after having been appointed in 1980. For three years before that, she was Assistant Secretary of Education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

The author of seven books, Berry has held an endowed chair in history at the University of Pennsylvania since 1987. One of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement, she was the first woman to head a major research university, the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her many awards include the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins Award, the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Ebony Magazine Black Achievement Award. She is one of 75 women featured in “I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.”

Bobby Seale
“History and Impacts of the Black Panther Party”
Feb. 22, Harrison-Small Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Bobby Seale and Huey Newton founded the radical, revolutionary Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 as an alternative to the nonviolent civil rights movement, believing African-Americans had to defend themselves against social conditions, such as police brutality. Seale later gave up his militancy. Born in Dallas, Texas, the son of a carpenter, Seale grew up mostly in Oakland, Calif., and attended Merritt College, where he met Newton.

Seale was among those arrested for demonstrating at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 and was brought to trial with the seven white radicals who became known as the “Chicago Seven,” until the judge sentenced him for contempt of court. Seale served almost three years in jail before being acquitted in 1971.

He left the Black Panther Party in 1974 and since then, has developed and worked on several community-related projects to help African-Americans. He ran for mayor of Oakland, unsuccessfully, in 1973. He still lectures about his experiences and civil rights for African- Americans.

In 1970 Seale published, “Seize the Time,” a book on the Black Panthers and the political views of Huey Newton. Seale’s autobiography, “A Lonely Rage,” was published in 1978. Taking a different turn, he published “Barbeque'n with Bobby” in 1987, the proceeds from which go to various nonprofit social organizations.

Maurice Apprey
“Thinking and Looking Forward”
Feb. 1, Rotunda Dome Room, 7 p.m.

Dr. Maurice Apprey, a professor of psychiatric medicine and the School of Medicine’s former associate dean for diversity, was named interim dean in July 2006. This talk is the first annual review he has given in this role.

Apprey has been involved in the successful recruitment and retention of minority students in the Medical School, and has taught both undergraduate and medical students, residents in psychiatry and psychology, and hospital chaplains, among others. He continues to serve in the Division of Outpatient Psychiatry and the Division of Child and Family Psychiatry.
The Office of African-American Affairs, created in 1976 to support black students and help change the institutional culture to embrace diversity, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Rare Photos of Martin Luther King Jr.
Photo exhibit, Newcomb Hall Art Gallery, on display until Feb. 2

On April 15, 1967, during a march in New York City from Central Park to the United Nations, photographer Benedict Fernandez met Martin Luther King Jr. Less than a year later, the great civil rights leader was dead, killed by an assassin's bullet. But during his last days, Fernandez snapped some of the most illuminating images of the man and his turbulent times.

Fernandez, who was born in Spanish Harlem in 1936, is widely acclaimed as an educator and photographer. He chaired the Photography Program at the New School and Parsons School of Design, New York City, and was a founder of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Photography at Parsons.

Fernandez received a Guggenheim Award, won a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and published a book on his documentation of the protest movement, “In Opposition: Images of American Dissent in the Sixties.” His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, among other collections.

From the University Library
Badi Foster to Discuss Ralph Bunche International Program on Feb. 8

Badi Foster, a longtime educator and administrator who has championed programs for African-Americans, will speak at the Harrison-Small Auditorium at 11 a.m. on Feb. 8. President of the Phelps Stokes Fund in Washington, D.C., Foster has been instrumental in a new program partnering with colleges and universities to establish student associations called Ralph Bunche Societies that will promote Bunche’s legacy of global scholarship and activism. The first 2006 pilot program site was launched at Winston-Salem State University, N.C. Based on this year’s program performance, the RBS will pursue a phased expansion to other historically black colleges and universities.

Ralph Bunche served on the U.S. delegation to the first United Nations General Assembly and was the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his work on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Bunche also was one of the early leaders of the Phelps Stokes Fund and served on their Board of Trustees.

Foster has worked at several major universities, including Princeton, Harvard and Tufts, as well as in private business and government agencies.

For more information, visit

Other library events
Michael Plunkett, Harris Institute fellow and director emeritus of the University Library's Special Collections, will talk about the library's collections of rare manuscripts and other items concerning slavery and African-American history. His talk on slavery will be held on Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. in the Byrd Room of the Harrison Institute, and his talk on "African-American Collections from Emancipation to the Civil Rights Era" will be on Feb 28 at 3 p.m. in the Byrd Room.