VCU to celebrate Black History Month with events recognizing the past and looking toward the future

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Ibram X. Kendi will discuss his book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” at the 16th annual Black History Month Lecture.
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Virginia Commonwealth University will celebrate Black History Month with a series of thought-provoking, educational and entertaining events throughout February centered on the theme of “continuing the legacy.”

“The goal for Black History Month at VCU this year is to talk about the legacy of black history,” said Reginald Stroble, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. “We'll start with events that give us an understanding of Carter G. Woodson [who founded the precursor to Black History Month] and then we'll hear from African Americans today who are continuing that legacy of excellence.”

All events are free and open to the public.


Black History Month Kickoff

The month will get underway on Thursday, Feb. 1, with the annual VCU Black History Month Kickoff, which will feature student performances by the VCU Black Awakening Choir and the National Pan-Hellenic Council, as well as keynote remarks by Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology and the interim chair of the Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

The kickoff, which will be held from 6-8 p.m., in Virginia Room B of University Student Commons, is being organized by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Black Student Union.

Black History Month Lecture: “Stamped from the Beginning”

VCU Libraries will host its 16th annual Black History Month  Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. with a talk by historian and author Ibram X. Kendi, who will discuss his book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” for which he won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016.

Kendi’s lecture will be followed by a Q&A, book signing and reception. The event is free and open to the public, though attendees are asked to register at:

“Each year, we look for an important contemporary voice who can put our culture and history in a meaningful and insightful context. Our 2018 speaker does just that. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is recognized as one of America’s most distinguished scholars on racism and race-driven policy in America,” said University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider.

VCU Libraries has hosted a Black History Month Lecture for 16 years, featuring such distinguished speakers as Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project; Melissa Harris-Perry, noted commentator and author; Dennis Parker, head of the ACLU Racial Justice Program; Keith Knight, celebrated comic artist and author of “The K Chronicles”; and last year, Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Stars from HBO’s ‘Insecure’

Two actors from the HBO series “Insecure” will speak at VCU on Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 7-8 p.m. in the Commonwealth Ballroom of University Student Commons.

Yvonne Orji, who plays Molly, and Jay Ellis, who plays Lawrence, will give keynote remarks. The event, which will be ticketed, is sponsored by the Activities Programming Board. Information on tickets will be coming soon.

Generation Dream 2018

On Sunday, Feb. 11, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Grace Street Theater, the Richmond Peace Education Center and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs will host “Generation Dream 2018,” featuring a diverse cast of talented Richmond youth and adult artists performing original poems, music and dance pieces in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and vision of peace, nonviolence and social justice.

Touring Richmond’s black history

Throughout February, the Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs will hold Field Trip Fridays, which will offer VCU students tours of black history sites in Richmond.

Christina Hairston
Christina Hairston

The first, on Feb. 9, will be a visit to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Students will experience visual, oral and written records and artifacts commemorating the lives and accomplishments of blacks in Virginia. Following the tour, students will have free admission to the exhibits, including a new black and white photography exhibition from the 1950s. Check-in begins at 11 a.m. at the University Student Commons information desk, and the tour will depart from the Commons at 11:30 a.m.

The second field trip Feb. 16 will be a tour of the Jackson Ward neighborhood, highlighting murals, revitalized buildings and historic homes. The tour will showcase the neighborhood that was once known as the Harlem of the South, and show students how art is shaping the face of Jackson Ward today. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. at the University Student Commons information desk, and the tour will depart at 9:30 a.m.

The third field trip will be Feb. 23 and will be led by Untold RVA, a homegrown, black-woman owned, urban exploration tour company that seeks to inspire people in search of an alternative view of the bygone era. The tour will feature history recordings at markers located throughout Richmond and street-art installations, and will reveal self-determination stories that have been submerged by mainstream history, such as the existence of an underground resistance movement. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. at the University Student Commons information desk, and the tour will depart at 9:30 a.m.

Men of color symposium

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Diversity and Equity Committee and the African American Male Student Advocacy and Mentoring Initiative of the College of Humanities and Sciences will hold a symposium exploring initiatives focused on retention of men of color in higher education.

Among the speakers will be Terrell Strayhorn, Ph.D., a scholar who speaks and publishes on college student success and issues of equity and diversity in higher education.

The symposium will be held from 4-8 p.m. in Room 303 of James Branch Cabell Library.

“African American Male Retention Through Ph.D. Programs”

The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs will host a Hump Day Dialogue featuring Kimberly Matthews, Ph.D., a professor with VCU LEAD, a living-learning program focused on developing graduates who can lead professional and civic organizations at a local, national and global level.

Matthews will discuss “African-American Male Retention Through Ph.D. Programs,” on Wednesday, Feb. 7, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Richmond Salons of University Student Commons.

Hump Day Dialogues are interactive presentations that provide an opportunity to educate students and staff members on the importance of diversity and inclusion. The content of these presentations is educational and informative and helps develop VCU students into better global citizens.

Black professional career panel

Latisha Taylor and Rosalyn Hundley, assistant directors of the University Career Center, will host a black professional career panel featuring professionals and VCU alumni who will speak with students and share insights about their experiences.

The panel will be held Thursday, Feb. 15, from 6-7:30 p.m., in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs in University Student Commons.

Social series on health issues affecting African Americans

Throughout February, VCU Health will host a Black History Month series on Twitter and Facebook to address health issues that disproportionately affect African Americans. The series will focus on obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Follow VCU Health on Twitter, @VCUHealth, and like its Facebook page to get more information about planned events, and read stories about patients who have made positive strides to regain their health.

On Friday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m., VCU Health is hosting a Facebook Live with VCU Health Division of Bariatric and Gastrointestinal Surgery surgeon Gretchen Aquilina, M.D., and her former patient Ciara Logan. They will discuss Logan’s weight-loss journey and her bariatric surgery experience at VCU Health. Aquilina also will discuss health behaviors to prevent and overcome obesity, particularly in the African-American community, and ways that VCU Health can help those struggling with weight loss.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m., VCU Health is hosting a Twitter chat on diabetes with Amber Spain, a VCU Health diabetes educator. As part of the chat, Spain will address the prevalence of diabetes in the African-American community, what causes it, and smart, practical ways to avoid developing the disease. The community is encouraged to follow the chat on Twitter and send questions for Spain to answer during the hourlong discussion.  

A full list of events will be posted at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs’ calendar at