U.Va.'s Observance of Black History Month Starts with King Commemoration

January 15, 2009

January 14, 2009 — The University of Virginia will mark Black History Month with a series of events, starting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 19) and extending through the last week of February. This year's theme is "Empowerment."

Two events will commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Jan. 19, from noon to 5 p.m., the University Library will present video screenings, exhibits and a musical performance by Black Voices. The event will take place in the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

On Jan. 21, there will be a panel discussion on "King and Obama: The Dream, The Promise, The Fulfillment?" at the Harrison-Small library auditorium at 4 p.m.
"This is a national comparison," said Dion W. Lewis, assistant dean of the Office of African-American Affairs and director of the Luther P. Jackson Black Cultural Center. "We will have a great panel discussion and people can create their own answer."

Black History Month events will also address stereotypes and financial matters. Sakina Spruell, a personal finance expert, will present a seminar Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom to educate college students on financial matters. This will include advice on how to pay down student loans, build credit, invest in the stock market and still have money left over.

Other events throughout the month will include lectures, discussions, exhibits and concerts. For a full schedule of events, visit www.virginia.edu/oaaa/. All events are open to the public.

Lewis said having two King commemorations book-ending the historic inauguration of the nation's first black president will bring more attention to the events.

"King would embrace (President-elect Barack) Obama as a partial recipient of the dream King so eloquently stated," Lewis said. "But King would not think we have gained the full equality or use of the promises this country has for many."

Black History Month events are sponsored by the Office of African-American Affairs, Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, Black Leadership Institute, Black Student Alliance, Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Equity, Carter G. Woodson Institute, University of Virginia Libraries, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Step It Up, University Programs Council and Get On the Street.

— By Matt Kelly