The month of February is Black History Month, and to celebrate, the University of North Georgia (UNG) Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) offers a variety of events open to the entire UNG community.
The month began with the Sankofa Traveling Black History Museum, which brought to UNG's Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses a display of artifacts that encompass the African American journey, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement.
"To really understand and appreciate a culture, you have to know its history," MSA Director Robert Robinson said. "So the story starts off with a people who went through slavery, and looks at how it just shifts to the presidency. From property to presidency – that's a powerful and inspirational story for all people."
Robinson emphasized that African American history is American history, and that to understand American history, one must understand the plight of its people.
"We are global citizens," Robinson said. "We're preparing you for a global world, and to be in a global world you have to understand a lot of different people."
UNG's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Showcase, which asks student speakers to answer a question concerning modern civil rights, will be held on Feb. 17 in the Hoag ABC Rooms from noon to 1 p.m. This year, the showcase asks: "In today's society, what would Dr. King consider our greatest social justice crisis?" The event's Gainesville Campus winners were Roger Long with first place, Asia Thomas in second, Christian Ramos in third, Peter Fitzpatrick in fourth, and Brittney Yancy in fifth. Dahlonega student speakers will include Maria Palacios, Schyla Cason, Oreva Aki, Rachel Glazer and Anita Renfroe.
"In placing time and energy into expanding our mutual understanding, we not only enrich our own lives, but make ourselves more competitive in the workforce, more innovative and better at communicating," said Glazer, a senior psychology major and UNG diplomat for diversity. "People think that 'having diversity' is the end of the line, but it's not — we have to engage in a dialogue about each other's histories in order to create a future where we do better than was done before."
On Feb. 27, MSA will also host "Hip-Hop as a Healing Practice: Music, Art + Culture Symposium." Funded by a Presidential Innovation Award, "Hip-Hop as a Healing Practice" will feature professionals that research, study and work in hip hop fields, and who know how that can be used as a healing practice. The symposium is 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Hoag Student Center. Those who wish to attend should register on the MSA website.
Additional events celebrating Black History Month:
- Feb. 10: Talk by Linda Rucker Hutchens, one of the first African American graduates from what was formerly known as Gainesville State College. Noon. Gainesville Campus, Robinson Ballroom
- Feb. 10: Talk by speaker, author, and activist Lemuel LeRoche. Noon. Cumming Campus, room 522
- Feb. 11: National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Showcase. 8 p.m. Dahlonega Campus, Hoag Auditorium
- Feb. 11: Michi Meko’s "Circle of Rivers" art exhibit reception. 5 p.m. Dahlonega Campus, Bob Owens Art Gallery
- Feb. 17. Talk by Dr. Ben Wayne about "The Life and Death of Civil Rights Icon Medgar Evers. " Noon. Gainesville Campus, Robinson Ballroom
- Feb. 18: Performance by Jonathan Celestin. Noon. Gainesville Campus, Robinson Ballroom
- Feb. 24: African American community leaders recognition ceremony. Noon. Gainesville Campus, Robinson Ballroom
- TBD: "Selma" showing. Cumming Campus
For questions or more information, please contact the UNG Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.