LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 1, 2021) — The University of Kentucky’s Martin Luther King Center, in collaboration with units across campus, will host a variety of events and programming, most of which will be virtual, to celebrate Black History Month this February.
While this year’s observance looks different than past year’s due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the observation of Black History Month will, nonetheless, allow the history and culture of Black Americans to be centered in recognition of past and present challenges, struggles and achievements.
“Since the late '60s and officially in 1976, Black History Month has been a long-awaited time for the corporate celebration of Black culture, Black stories and Black people,” said Chandler Frierson, UK senior and programming intern at the MLK Center. “With that narrative, this year’s Black History Month is a special month. People across the world have witnessed firsthand a year that has further proven the endurance, voices and multi-faceted accomplishments of Black people.”
The current social justice movement has ignited an overwhelming desire and demand for education and reflection. Through curated programming, the Black History Month planning committee believes they will provide the campus community with an opportunity to learn, embrace and acknowledge Black history and Black voices.
“Our goal this year was to truly encompass a collaborative effort for planning Black History Month and to bring in diverse perspectives to highlight the many facets of Blackness and the Black Diaspora,” said Ja’Mahl McDaniel, director of the MLK Center. “I am extremely proud of the work and commitment our Black History Month planning team has demonstrated. Even amid our continued challenges during the pandemic, we have been very intentional about our efforts to celebrate the legacy that is Black History Month. Our programs and conversations will be offered through multiple platforms to ensure plenty of opportunity to engage in meaningful events.”
The UK Alumni Association Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Group, in partnership with the UK Office for Institutional Diversity, will kick off Black History Month at UK with the 30th annual Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer and Torch of Excellence awards via Facebook Live at noon today. The program honors and celebrates Black students and alumni from each college who epitomize the ideals of Lyman T. Johnson. To watch today’s awards presentation, tune into the UK Alumni Association’s Facebook page.
The MLK Center will kick off its month of programming with the second annual Men of Color Symposium Feb. 4-5. Open to students and professionals across Kentucky and beyond, attendees will be exposed to renowned speakers, presented with insightfully themed sessions with applicable and practical information and opportunities to discuss building support for men of color. For more information or to register, visit www.uky.edu/mlkc/men-color-symposium.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, the center, in collaboration with the UK Student Activities Board (SAB), will present its annual Black History Month speaker, Bernice King. Bernice King is a minister, attorney, author and the youngest child of the late civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Bernice King serves as the chief executive officer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which was founded by her mother, Coretta Scott King, in 1968. Through her work at The King Center, Bernice King educates youth and adults about the nonviolent principles modeled by her parents.
Additional MLK Center Black History Month events include:
- Sister Circle: "Healing and Loving Ourselves": 4:30 p.m Tuesday, Feb. 2.
- My Brother's Keeper: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3.
- The College of Arts and Sciences' Passport to the World: Race and Equity in Times of Global Pandemic and MLK Center Lunch and Learn Series have co-organized a panel featuring representatives from throughout the university, including Cristina Alcalde, Shauna Morgan, Cheryl Matias and Natalie Malone to discuss the challenges and opportunities of teaching at predominantly white institutions: Noon Wednesday, Feb. 10.
- Social Justice through Social Media: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10.
- "Shade of Love" with Office of LGBTQ* Resources: 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11.
- "A Celebration of Black Love" sponsored by NAACP: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16.
- Latin American Diaspora Dialogue Series presents "The Afro-Latino: Five Centuries of Identity, Culture and Erasure": 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18.
- Bruce Hayne in collaboration with African American and Africana Studies and Jewish Studies, present "The Soul of Judaism: Jews of African Descent in America": 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19.
- Black Sitcom Trivia: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 (sponsored by SAB).
- "The Masked Singer" karaoke: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, in Worsham Cinema (masks required and social distancing enforced).
- "Queer and Here": QTPOC & BIPOC Allies Kick Back & Community Check-in: 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25.
- "The Art of Being: Black History Fashion Show": 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, in Gatton Student Center Ballroom C.
To see a full calendar of MLK Center events, registration info and Zoom links, visit www.uky.edu/mlkc/cultural-heritage-months.
College of Arts and Sciences
The UK College of Arts and Sciences will also present programming to commemorate Black History Month. An upcoming Virtual Speaker Series, “Black Studies at UK: Where are we going from here?”, will feature Anastasia Curwood, DaMaris Hill and interim Dean Christian Brady. It will take place at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, on Zoom.
The college and the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies will also host the 26th annual Black Women's Conference Feb. 26-27. The theme for this year’s conference is “Literature, Digital Media, and the Afrofuture.” More information, including registration, is available at www.as.uky.edu/uks-26th-annual-black-womens-conference.
Throughout February, the college, with support from the Office for Institutional Diversity, will highlight Black scientists from across the U.S. in a series of posters displayed in the Jacobs Science Building. The posters were designed by UK students, faculty and staff from various departments in the college. The organizers hope readers will consider all contributors to scientific disciplines, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, who — despite the struggle — made notable contributions to scientific concepts that benefit us all.
UK Libraries will also host several events and programs in recognition of Black History Month. This includes an online exhibit focused on Black contributions to bourbon, horse racing, STEM, and athletics, as well as civil rights activists, notable Black UK graduates or faculty, centers/museums and Kentuckians who championed legislation. The exhibit is curated by UK Libraries Diversity Scholar interns Daneila Gamez and Adrianna Navia and will be available on UK Libraries instagram at @uklibraries. Further research can be found on UK Libraries' databases at libraries.uky.edu, in particular the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database.
From 3-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, UK Libraries will host the UKY #BLM Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, open to the campus and public. An “Edit-a-Thon” is an event that aims to change bias and underrepresentation in Wikipedia. Learn more and register at https://createuky.net/blm-wikipedia-edit-a-thon/.
UK Libraries' Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History is planning an episode of the Wisdom Project podcast featuring an interview with UK President Capilouto, former UK Vice President for Institutional Diversity Sonja Feist-Price and interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity George Wright discussing the impact of the Lyman T. Johnson story. The podcast will include excerpts from an interview with Johnson. The episode is scheduled to post Feb. 19.
UK Libraries will also take part in an open house Feb. 19 for The Black Teacher Archive project, which aims to digitize and provide online access to state journals of “Colored Teachers Associations,” which operated roughly from 1860 through 1970. UK Libraries is providing digitized copies of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal (currently available on ExploreUK). While the event is targeted to archivists, librarians and curators, anyone is welcome to join on Zoom. The Black Teachers Archive is a Mellon funded initiative based at Harvard University.
“From learning about social justice through social media to candid conversations with Dr. Bernice King, this Black History Month, student organizations, campus offices and allies of Black communities across the university have come together and prepared a diverse set of intentional programs to meet and introduce every student to Black History, and more importantly provide spaces for Black students to be affirmed, loved and celebrated,” Frierson said. “My hope is that this Black History Month will lead the university and its constituents in celebrating, affirming and cherishing Black students 365/24/7.”
In addition to the MLK Center, the Black History Month committee consists of student leaders representing the UK chapter of the NAACP, Black is Gold, the Black Student Union, the African Student Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Black Voices Gospel Choir, Collegiate Curls and the Fashion Crew. The committee is also collaborating with the College of Arts and Sciences (including African American and Africana Studies, Jewish Studies, and Hispanic Studies); the Latino Student Union; the Student Activities Board; the Office for Student Organizations and Activities; the Office of LGBTQ* Resources; the Center for Graduate and Professional Diversity Initiatives; the Office for Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice; and the Office for Institutional Diversity.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.