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Emory Black History Month events reach across continents
Tom Dorsey photos

One event during Black History Month highlighting the diversity of the African American experience is an exhibition of photographer Tom Dorsey’s work at the Carlos Museum. “A Very Incomplete Self-Portrait” opens Feb. 18.

— Tom Dorsey, A Very Incomplete Self-Portrait, Fol. 3. 1971. Gelatin silver prints mounted to archival board. 2022.006.004A/B. © Tom Dorsey. Courtesy Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University.

The writer Toni Morrison said shortly before her death that "history has always proved that books are the first plain on which certain battles are fought."

As the Emory community celebrates Black History Month, the nation is fighting a battle over history, facts and whose experiences are allowed to show up in classrooms — from kindergarten to college. This battle impacts a multitude of communities, and Emory is committed to continuing to expand students’ knowledge of our shared history.

Throughout the month of February, Emory will host panel discussions, programs and celebrations that explore many aspects of the Black experience in America and beyond.

The Michael C. Carlos Museum will host an exhibition of photographer Tom Dorsey’s work titled “A Very Incomplete Self-Portrait.” This portfolio of black-and-white photographs, taken while Dorsey was enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, includes paired images of homes, buildings and streets in his childhood neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. Dorsey was born in Augusta, Georgia, but raised in Chicago, and he built his career taking pictures of Black families there and in Atlanta. Select photographs in the exhibition will be accompanied by audio labels with Dorsey’s voice providing context for the portraits.

As Emory’s vice provost of libraries and museum, Valeda Dent believes that events throughout the month will show how the past and present are inextricably connected.

“Black History Month is a time for us to revere the countless contributions and sacrifices Black people have made in America, many of which were backbreaking, dehumanizing and violent,” Dent says. “I invite everyone to celebrate our ancestors’ contributions with great pride, but also take a moment to reflect on how far we all must travel toward true freedom and equality."

Emory Libraries will host several events, including “The Many Lives of Andrew Young: A Conversation with Andrew Young and Ernie Suggs” on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Emory Student Center. Suggs is a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the author of the new book about the civil rights leader, “The Many Lives of Andrew Young.”

There also will be Black History Month events at the Oxford campus, including a panel called “Hair Discovery: Unpacking Hair Discrimination and the Crown Act” on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Mural Room. The panel will examine Black people’s experiences with hair discrimination in the workplace with Wade Manora Jr., director of student diversity, equity and inclusion at Oxford, as moderator. Panelists include Emory student Jemon Clark 20Ox; professor Pearl Dowe, whose recent research focuses on African American women’s political ambition and public leadership; and Saralita Matthews, residence life coordinator.

"It is important to spread awareness of all aspects of bias, and how we individually and collectively need to do our part in correcting the wrongs of hair discrimination,” Manora says. “Hearing the stories of others will always humanize the issues to others that haven’t had that lived experience.”


Black History Month 2023 at Emory

Atlanta campus events

Note: An Emory login is required for some registrations.

Tuesday, Feb. 14

12 p.m., Woodruff Library, Jones Room

Douglass Day

During this annual program on Frederick Douglass’ birthday, the Center for Black Digital Research at Pennsylvania State University gathers thousands of people to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year, the Emory community will be transcribing and enriching the papers of abolitionist and women’s rights activist Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Sponsored by Emory Libraries and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Thursday, Feb. 16

7:30 p.m., Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Theater Lab

Theater Emory Presents “Our Town”

Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play has been translated into Spanish and Mandarin to show how American cities have changed. Professor Lydia Fort and Marguerite Hannah, producer at Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre, helm the production, which features Emory students and professional actors. Onstage at the Schwartz Center Theater Lab through Feb. 26.

Saturday, Feb. 18

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Art Exhibit: “A Very Incomplete Self-Portrait”

A collection of photographer Tom Dorsey’s images of the West Side Chicago neighborhood where he grew up will be on display at the Carlos Museum starting this month through July 16.

Sunday, Feb. 19

12 p.m., Fox Theatre

Gateway to Atlanta: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Get ready for an electrifying night of dance as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns for their annual engagement at the Fox Theatre. Don't miss the chance to witness the grace and skill of these world-renowned dancers as they perform the timeless masterpieces by the company's founder, Alvin Ailey. There will be a preparty at the Black Student Association House. RSVP required. Sponsored by Campus Life, the Office for RACE, Center for Women and Residence Life.

Sunday, Feb. 19

3 p.m., Emory Student Center, Multipurpose Room 4

Soul Food Gospel Fest

Join Emory's Voices of Inner Strength Gospel Choir and guest gospel choirs from the Greater Atlanta area for a celebration with music, liturgical dance, spoken word, trivia and games. Soul food refreshments will be provided. Cosponsored by the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life. Registration is required.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

7 p.m., Emory Student Center

The Many Lives of Andrew Young: A Conversation with Andrew Young and Ernie Suggs

Emory Libraries hosts Ambassador Andrew Young and Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ernie Suggs to discuss the new book “The Many Lives of Andrew Young,” written by Suggs. Young, a civil rights icon who turns 91 in March, was a two-term mayor of Atlanta, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a member the U.S. House of Representatives. Admission is free, but registration is required.

Thursday, Feb. 23

8 p.m., Symphony Hall

William Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony”

William Levi Dawson was one of the most renowned African American composers, known for his arrangements of Negro spirituals. His papers are archived in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. On Feb. 23 and 24, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) will perform his canonical work, “Negro Folk Symphony,” as a part of their Conrad Tao engagement. Peter Shirts, the music and dance librarian, will curate a small case of Dawson’s materials for display at the ASO concerts.

Friday, Feb. 24

1 p.m., Michael C. Carlos Museum

Student Studio: Creating Kuba-Inspired Collages  

Join Atlanta-based artist Zachary Francois and staff of the Emory Black Student Union to explore the meaning behind geometric shapes and patterns found in Kuba textiles from Central Africa. Then create your own Kuba-inspired textile collage piece using raffia fabric and paper. Sponsored by the Carlos Museum and the Department of Art History. This is a partnership between the Office for RACE and Carlos Museum.

Friday, Feb. 24

8 p.m., Emory Conference Center Hotel

Candler School of Theology 13th Annual Heritage Ball

This year’s theme is “Blackness Unfiltered: Standing in the Doorway for Our People to Thrive.” Professor of theology and ethics Noel L. Erskine will be honored as he prepares to retire from Candler after 46 years on the faculty. This is a ticketed event. Registration is required.


Oxford campus events

Note: An Emory login is required for some registrations.

Thursday, Feb. 9

6 p.m., Phi Gamma Hall

“I, Too” Documentary Screening

Watch professor Carol Anderson’s documentary “I, Too,” which connects the dots between the January 6 insurrection and similar events in the early 20th century.

Thursday, Feb. 16

6 p.m., Forum Room

Black History Month Movie Night and Open Mic

Watch the film “King Richard,” about the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, followed by an open mic night.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

7 p.m., Mural Room

Hair Discovery: Unpacking Hair Discrimination and the. Crown Act

Panelists will discuss hair discrimination and the efforts to ensure that all people are allowed to wear their natural hair without it impacting their livelihood.

Tuesday, Feb. 28

7 p.m., Phi Gamma Hall

Showtime at Oxford Talent Show

To celebrate the legacy of the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, the Oxford Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host a talent show inspired by the iconic amateur nights that made the theater a household name.

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