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Former AMA president Patrice Harris headlines Black History Month events

January 15, 2021

University of North Georgia (UNG) students, faculty and staff, and the community will have a chance to hear from a trailblazing speaker during Black History Month.

Dr. Patrice A. Harris, the first African-American woman to serve as president of the American Medical Association (AMA), will deliver the keynote address at noon Feb. 17 via Zoom. Harris currently serves as the AMA's immediate past president on its Board of Trustees. A psychiatrist from Atlanta, she has experience as a private practicing physician, public health administrator, patient advocate and medical society lobbyist.

Alexandria Cowans, president of the Black Student Union (BSU) on UNG's Gainesville Campus, looks forward to hearing from Harris. Cowans is a junior pursuing a degree in management.

"Especially in the Black community, we need encouragement," Cowans said. "It's very empowering to see another Black woman who's doing well and encouraging college students."

Harris marks the latest high-profile Black History Month keynote speaker at UNG. Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, spoke in 2020, a year after Olympian Tommie C. Smith visited UNG. Dr. Robert Robinson, director of Multicultural Student Affairs at UNG, is excited for students to gain inspiration from Harris.

"She is a great example to students of color about the power of possibility of going into the sciences," Robinson said. "As the former president of the American Medical Association, that sets the gold standard of what you can achieve."

In addition to the keynote event, UNG will host a performance by African Zuzu dancers at 6 p.m. Feb. 25, which will be streamed via Zoom with the link available in UNG Connect.

Cowans is grateful for the chance to reflect on Black history in February.

"It means everything to me. Black history is American history. There are great things we did that don't get acknowledged," Cowans said. "It's important because if we don't know our history, that can hinder us, Black or white or Hispanic. It's important that we all know our history and how connected we really are." 

Other Black History Month events

Feb. 3, noon: "What Does Black History Month Mean to You?" discussion, Zoom, link in UNG Connect

Feb. 10, 6 p.m.: Open Mic Night/Cultural Celebration, Zoom, link in UNG Connect

Feb. 23, 7 p.m.: Movie Night (movie TBA), Hoag Auditorium, Dahlonega

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