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UNG honors MLK with traveling museum, oratorical competitions

The University of North Georgia (UNG) will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by hosting Sankofa: The African-American Museum on Wheels and oratorical competitions on its Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses.

Sankofa means "to reach back and get it" in Akan, a language of Ghana. Angela Jennings, curator of Sankofa, will present African-American history through lectures, guided tours and drama.

"Sankofa is a renowned traveling museum that focuses on the African-American experience. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we will have a specific focus on the civil rights movement," said Robert Robinson, UNG's director of multicultural student affairs (MSA). "Students can come by and ask questions about the exhibit, and will learn a great deal about African-American history."

Jennings said her mission is to share the history and culture of Africa and African-Americans. Her presentations begin with Africa, then cover the middle passage through slavery, including a cotton exhibit, and spotlight famous African-Americans such as Frederick Douglass. The presentations examine black cowboys and buffalo soldiers, inventions, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Negro League, include a large portion on the Civil Rights Movement featuring an extensive collection of memorabilia, and end with a look at President Barack Obama.

"I will also hold group and individual question-and-answer sessions with any students who are interested," Jennings said.

Sankofa will visit UNG's Dahlonega Campus on Jan. 15 and the Gainesville Campus on Jan. 16, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sankofa will be in the Hoag Great Room on the Dahlonega Campus, and in the Student Center dining area on the Gainesville Campus.

On Jan. 29, the Dahlonega Campus will hold an oratorical competition. Five students, selected by their submitted outlines, will speak about what they feel King would consider to be the prominent civil rights issue in America today. The students will be competing for cash prizes in front of an audience of faculty, staff and fellow students. The Gainesville Campus will hold its oratorical competition, featuring five more selected students, on Feb. 5.

"We are very excited about these competitions and about giving our students the opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King," Robertson said.

MSA's mission is to strengthen the climate of the university by fostering an inclusive environment for all constituents and providing leadership opportunities, as well as encouraging student involvement. MSA also advocates for UNG to strive toward a diverse campus community, and serves as a resource for institutional diversity, multicultural education, and social justice awareness for all constituents. The office contributes to the mission of the university by providing the campus community with opportunities to learn about and discuss social issues that focus on diversity, inclusion, and internationalism.

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