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African-American role models in spotlight at UNG

Actress, filmmaker and author Jasmine Burke will be the keynote speaker for Black History Month from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 21 on University of North Georgia's Gainesville Campus.

Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall are African-Americans whose names are in history books. It's the lesser-known, but equally impactful, African-Americans who members of the Black Student Union (BSU) plan to highlight during Black History Month at University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus.

"A lot of people think Black History Month is about athletes and inventors," said Brittney Yancy, president of the BSU. "It's more than that."

Dr. Robert Robinson, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), agreed. He pointed to George "Crum" Speck, who is credited with creating the potato chip and serving it in restaurants.

"He just created the concept. Someone else came along and mass marketed it," he said. "There are a lot of African-Americans who made contributions like this and much more."

Sponsored by the MSA and BSU, the little-known African-Americans who impacted history will be featured during presentations from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, in the Robinson Ballroom on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

Kicking off the Black History Month events will be a presentation by Dr. Douglas Ealey. He will speak about the relationship between law enforcement and African-American males from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Actress, filmmaker and author Jasmine Burke will be the keynote speaker from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 21 on the Gainesville Campus. Burke has performed on the big and small screen in "The Secret Life of Bees," "Mississippi Damned," "The Vampire Diaries," "Army Wives," and "Drumline: A New Beat." She currently stars in Bounce TV's No. 1 original series "Saints & Sinners."

Yancy said after hearing Burke speak previously, she and her fellow BSU members asked her to come to UNG.

"I can’t remember there ever being a celebrity with name recognition nationally to come and speak," Yancy said.

The 21-year-old sophomore majoring in psychology from Chicago explained Burke's message is an inspiring one to hear.

"She said there is beauty in patience, because it ultimately gets you to where you want to be," Yancy said. "And she said it's important to have a foundation and community around you, because you can get discouraged without it."

The Manga African Dance Inc., a nonprofit organization that teaches indigenous African cultural arts through dance, drums and songs, will perform Feb. 28 in the Robinson Ballroom on the Gainesville Campus. ​​​Founded in 1990 by Ramatu Afegbua-Sabbatt, Manga's repertoire exhibits cultural traditions from Western, Central and Southern Africa.

Yancy said she is looking forward to the event, which will close the Black History Month events on the Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses.

"I would like the students to come to the events and to the meetings and see the culture and see what we are doing," Yancy said. "It will be refreshing and educational."

Robinson said the Black History Month events are an important way to understand the African-American culture.

"You can't respect a culture until you understand their story," Robinson said. "And the African-American story symbolizes the American dream. It's about a people going from being property to being property owners to being president of the United States."

He explained the story of African-Americans is also unique because it's constantly evolving.

"When I was a kid, I never imagined I would see a black man elected president of the United States," he said. "I never thought we would have someone who could make such a huge impact on the world like Oprah Winfrey. These two and all of the rest are continuing to make strides in history."


Black History Month Events

All events are from noon to 1 p.m. in Robinson Ballroom in the Student Center

Feb. 7 — Dr. Douglas Ealey's presentation on law enforcement and African-American males
Feb. 14 — BSU members’ presentations on African-Americans
Feb. 21 — Keynote speaker Jasmine Burke
Feb. 28 — Manga African Dance performance

All events are from noon to 1 p.m. room 522

Feb. 6 — Leadership Luncheon with presentation "Find Your Voice: Civil Rights Activists and Building Your Oral Communication Skills"
Feb. 21 — Black History Month keynote speaker (to be determined)
Feb. 27 — Nighthawk Talks titles "Black Masculinities" with guest speaker Dr. Robert Robinson
To be determined — A Screening of 13th: A Documentary

Noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 7 – Crossfire discussion on race relations in America with Dr. Robert Robinson (co-sponsored by MSA and Political Science Student Association) in Hoag ABC rooms
7–8:30 p.m. Feb. 13 — “Living in the Now: A Black History Month Event” with guest speaker Sgt. First Class Shannon Clarke and keynote speaker Quartermaster Terrence W. Holeman in Young Hall 202.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 20 — The Intersection of Race and Class During the Civil Rights Movement: The Untold Story of Claudette Colvin in Hoag Auditorium
7-9 p.m. Feb. 26 – Manga African Dance to perform in Hoag Auditorium
7 p.m. March 29 — UNG Step Show featuring National Pan-Hellenic Council groups from around North Georgia in Hoag Auditorium

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