Emory commemorates Black History Month with events throughout February

Emory Report | Feb. 2, 2021

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Programs during Emory’s 2021 observance of Black History Month will feature (clockwise from top left) Anthony Jack; Jessica Stewart; Taos Wynn; Kevin L. Gilliam and Iesha Galloway-Gilliam; Valerie Babb; and more.

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Departments across Emory will host numerous virtual activities during February in recognition of Black History Month, including panel discussions, a film screening and conversations with artists and authors.

"Our theme for Black History Month this year is 'legacy and responsibility' as we reflect on the loss of so many luminaries in 2020," says Carol E. Henderson, Emory’s chief diversity officer, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, and adviser to the president.

From the deaths of civil rights icons like Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian, Rev. Joseph Lowery and U.S. Rep. John Lewis to the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and Ahmaud Arbery, among others, "given all this loss, coupled with the groundswell of people responding to a clarion call for change, Black History Month renews our interest in remembering those who laid the groundwork for such change," Henderson says. "That is our legacy. It is our responsibility."

How Black History Month began

What has now become Black History Month began in 1926 as Negro History Week, created by historian Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson, the second African American to earn a PhD from Harvard, timed the week to coincide with the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. 

Fifty years later, in 1976, the organization, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, expanded the celebration from a week to a month. 

President Gerald Ford issued the first national Black History Month proclamation in 1976, noting the relevance of 1976 as the bicentennial of the United States.

“Freedom and the recognition of individual rights are what our revolution was all about. They were ideals that inspired our fight for independence: ideals that we have been striving to live up to ever since. Yet it took many years before these ideals became a reality for Black citizens,” Ford noted.

“In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers. But, even more than this, we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” Ford continued. 

Black History Month 2021 at Emory

Here is the current schedule of Black History Month activities. All programs will be held online and are free and open to the public. 

Thursday, Feb. 4

4:30 p.m.

2021 Pellom McDaniels Sports History Lecture Series: “Bigger than Sports”

Registration required

Just days before Super Bowl LV, join author and ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant, New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden and Emory history professor Carl Suddler for a timely discussion about sports, politics and African American history.

Thursday, Feb. 4

6 p.m.

Emory Round Table: “Africa Put to the Test: From Free Trade to COVID”

Registration required 

Tune in for a conversation with Hon. Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, the current and fourth-term member of Parliament for Ellembele Constituency, located in the Western Region of Ghana, where he launched a food bank.

Friday, Feb. 5

12 p.m.

Race Beyond Borders: “Understanding Race as a Global Concept: Power, Access, and Policy”

Registration required 

This event will launch the multi-institutional Race Beyond Borders initiative and offer a first step in bringing voices together to begin a dialogue and process of inquiry about race: how we can start developing a shared understanding of race as a global concept, how concepts of race are constructed in different parts of the world and more. Participating organizations include Emory's Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives and the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference; Atlanta Global Studies Center; Georgia State University's Center for Studies on Africa and Its Diaspora and GSU’s Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies; Spelman College's Gordon-Zeto Center for Global Education and its African Diaspora and the World Program; Georgia Tech’s Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Global Atlanta; and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of International Affairs.

Sunday, Feb. 7

3 p.m.

Film Screening and Discussion: “Athlete. Scholar. Activist: Chapters in the Life of Dr. Pellom McDaniels”

Registration required 

Join this event honoring the contributions of Pellom McDaniels III, former Emory professor of African American studies and curator of African American collections at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, who passed away in April 2020.

Monday, Feb. 8

12 p.m.

Presentation: “Diversity and Inclusion Counts: How Universities Reshape Racial Inequality Behind Diversity Numbers”

Registration required 

Guest speaker W. Carson Byrd of the University of Michigan will discuss a snippet of his forthcoming book examining how the organizational processes and policies among universities can shape racial inequality on campuses particularly when campus units rely on numbers-driven approaches to both measure and monitor progress of diversity and inclusion.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

7:30 p.m.

Oxford College Chaplain’s Lecture Series with Taos Wynn

Registration required

Emory alumnus, social advocate, author and speaker Taos Wynn will speak on his advocacy work around human rights issues, including his work with the Perfect Love Foundation — a nonprofit organization he founded in 2013 with a focus on community, education and advocacy.

Thursday, Feb. 11

4 p.m.

Discussion: “How Atlanta is Striving to Become an Economically Just and Inclusive Community”

Registration required

A panel of exceptional leaders in the region will share their insights on how their efforts are improving economic access and opportunities for historically underrepresented business enterprises in metro Atlanta.

Panelists will include Stacey Key, president and CEO, Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council; Leona Barr-Davenport, president and CEO, Atlanta Business League; and Donna M. Ennis, project director and operator representative for the Atlanta MBDA Business & Advanced Manufacturing Centers and the SE MBDA Inner City Innovation Hub at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. Alan Anderson, Emory’s assistant vice president for university partnerships, will moderate the discussion.

Thursday, Feb. 11

5 p.m.

“The Privileged Poor” with Anthony Jack

Registration required

Anthony Jack, sociologist and assistant professor of education at Harvard University, is transforming ways to address diversity and inclusion in education. His new book, “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students,” reframes the conversation surrounding poverty and higher education. 

Wednesday, Feb. 17

5 p.m.

17th Annual Hamilton E. Holmes Memorial Lecture: “Healing from Our Two Traumas”

Registration required

During 2020 we weathered the effects of COVID-19 and heard "a cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making." Guest lecturers Kevin L. Gilliam and Iesha Galloway-Gilliam, who completed their medical residencies at Emory School of Medicine, are both physicians in Minneapolis where they stood together on the front lines of both traumas.  

This annual lecture is named in honor of the first African American graduate of Emory University’s School of Medicine. Holmes later became a professor of orthopedics, associate dean at the school and was named medical director of Grady Memorial Hospital. The lecture addresses topics of social justice, community engagement, access to care and health disparities.

Wednesday, Feb. 17

4 p.m.

Discussion: “How Small Businesses Drive Economic Opportunity in Metro Atlanta”

Registration required

A panel of established entrepreneurs in the region will share insights on how they are ensuring underrepresented entrepreneurs gain access to mentors, capital and other resources to sustain and thrive in Metro Atlanta. 

Panelists will include Jay Bailey, president and CEO of Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Ryan Wilson, co-founder and CEO of The Gathering Spot; and Joey Womack, founder and CEO of Goodie Nation. Janeria Easley, assistant professor of African American studies at Emory, will moderate the discussion.

Thursday, Feb. 18

12 p.m.

Emory Community Conversation: “The Black Box”

Registration required

Valerie Babb, Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities, and Jessica Lynn Stewart,  assistant professor of African American studies, will lead a conversation on the construction of race, the difficulties individuals experience with Black versus African American, intraracial dynamics, and the many intersections of the Black identity.

Thursday, Feb. 18

4:15 p.m.

Discussion with artist Kevin Beasley: “Race, Social Justice and Contemporary African American Art”

Registration required 

The series of programs focuses on the representation of Black persons in contemporary African American art, and on the various ways in which contemporary artists have engaged with the project of representing Blackness. 

Friday, Feb. 19

3:30 p.m.

Lecture and conversation: “Following the Path of a Transformed Nonconformist”

Registration required 

Hear Emory alumnus the Rev. Adam Russell Taylor speak. Taylor is the new president of Sojourners and a former faith and advocacy leader at the World Bank and World Vision. He is the author of "Mobilizing Hope: Faith-Inspired Activism for a Post-Civil Rights Generation." 

Monday, Feb. 22

4 p.m.

Faculty Showcase featuring Jericho Brown and Emory’s New Faculty

Registration required

Join in celebrating the extraordinary research, creativity and diversity of Emory’s faculty. Sponsored by the Office of Faculty Affairs, the event features the poetry of Professor Jericho Brown, Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry in 2020, and offers interactive engagement with new faculty from across the campus and disciplines, ranging from the humanities to the social and natural sciences.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

4 p.m.

“Preserving Black History in the Archives: The Legacy and Future of Rose Library’s African American Collections”

Registration required

Meet Clinton Fluker, the new curator of African American collections at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, and hear his curatorial vision and his plans for building on Rose's legacy. The event also will celebrate the growth of the Rose Library’s African American collections into one of the premier collections of its kind.

Fluker is an Emory alumnus who has worked in the Rose Library and the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Learn more

Tuesday, Feb. 23

7:30 p.m.

Conversation with Roxane Gay and Tameka Cage Conley: “We Mend and Remember”

Registration required

Oxford College hosts Roxane Gay, iconic cultural critic and bestselling author whose widely revered work has advanced modern feminist thought, critical race theory and how we consider the world of politics and popular culture. The event illuminates the intention of Oxford’s emerging Creative Writing program to embrace and celebrate diversity, excellence, empowerment and exceptional literary talent. Gay will be in conversation with Tameka Cage Conley, Oxford assistant professor of English and creative writing.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Discussion: “Black Men and White Coats”

12 p.m.

Registration required

Fewer Black men applied to medical school in 2014 than in 1978. From Feb. 21-23, online access will be available to watch this documentary dissecting the systemic barriers preventing Black men from becoming medical doctors and the consequences on society at large.

Watch the film, then join the online panel discussion on Feb. 24. Panelists will include Jason Campbell, resident at Oregon Health and Science University; Anwar Osborn, associate professor at Emory University; DeJuan White, assistant professor at Emory University; and Yolanda Wimberly, associate professor at Morehouse School of Medicine. Professor Sheryl Heron and Yolanda Hood, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs within Emory School of Medicine, will moderate. 

Wednesday, Feb. 24

5:30 p.m.

Conversation: “Bigger than a Home Run: The Life and Legacy of Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron”

Registration required

Join the Emory Center for Ethics for a conversation with some of Atlanta’s community leaders about the professional, personal and community legacy of the man who Dusty Baker called “the truest, most honest person that I ever knew.”

Speakers will include Sid Barron, general manager and managing partner of Bentley Atlanta and previous part owner and general manager for Hank Aaron Jaguar Land Rover Augusta; Stacey Key, president and CEO of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, the state’s leading authority on supplier diversity and minority business development; A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District; and Ross R. Rossin, CEO of Conrad Floyd Communication and portrait artist known for his large-scale, realist portraits of modern and historical figures – including one of Aaron that has hung in the National Portrait Gallery.

Edward Queen, director of the D. Abbott Turner Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership and coordinator of undergraduate studies at the Ethics Center at Emory, will moderate.

Thursday, Feb. 25

4 p.m.

Discussion: “How Emory Takes Action to Provide Access and Opportunity for Diverse Business”

Registration required

Join this conversation focused on how Emory University is taking action to provide more access and opportunity for diverse businesses in the metro Atlanta region by ensuring they gain access to contracts, mentors and other resources as the university develops partnerships.

Randy Brown, manager of the university’s supplier diversity program, will moderate the discussion. Panelists will include Erin Igleheart, program director of Start:ME; Kevin Nash, chief procurement officer; and Candy Tate, assistant director of the Emory College Center for Creativity and Arts.