By Dr. Ghislaine Lewis ~ Advisor
The University of Lynchburg will celebrate Black History Month 2021 under the theme, “Good Trouble: Uniting Our Dreams & Voices for Justice.”
The calendar of events is being co-sponsored by the Black History Month Planning Committee and the Johnson Health Center.
Vice President for Inclusive Excellence and planning committee chair, Dr. Robert Canida said, “This year’s theme was chosen, one to pay homage to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the well known Drum Major for justice and righteousness! And two, to honor the late Honorable Congressman John Lewis and his contribution to social justice, equality and unity. Both of these remarkable men were icons of Good Trouble!”
Alumna Rachel Gibson ‘10 who also serves on the planning committee said, “I wanted to help make sure we had events that would be beneficial, engaging for students, alumni, and the community, and can leave a lasting impact on those who attend.”
The diverse 13-event calendar currently includes several discussions on race, equity and inclusion, a dance exhibition, a poetry slam and a gospel concert.
“There will be so many things that our campus will garner from this year’s Black History Month. Our hope is that the campus, the alumni and community friends realize that Black history is not relegated to just 28 days of the shortest month of the year. Black history is 24/7, 365 days! Furthermore, it’s our hope that everyone truly understands the invaluable contributions made by Black/African Americans and that Black history is America’s history and finally that Black History Matters,” said Canida.
The month kicks off on Feb. 1 with a keynote by Rasheed Cromwell on “Renaissance and Revolution: Black History, Our History” and continues on Feb. 3 with a courageous conversation with Dr. Henricka McCoy on “The Life of a Black Academic: Tired and Terrorized Because History and Current Events Matter.” The calendar also includes conversations with Dr. Michael Elliott of Centra Health, Dr. Tonya Price from University of Lynchburg, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn of Virginia Union University and Dr. Kwame Otu from University of Virginia and a virtual dance exhibition by the Kuumba Dancers.
Gibson said, “I am excited really about all of the events. There really is something for everyone. I can’t wait to listen in on the “Health Disparity and Black/African American Women: What’s Weight Got to Do With It?” As a Black woman, we carry so much in terms of the stress of life, maintaining our families, making sure everyone else in our lives is okay and being a black woman in America. When we go to the doctor, we are often criticized for our weight, but never taken seriously for our concerns. The misconception that our “Black girl magic” will sustain us, leads to us not getting the care we deserve. I am hoping this session can help bring to light the disparities we face.”
Students and alumni are also intimately involved in the programming leading the Spoken Word event on Feb. 11, the National Pan-Hellenic Council panel on Feb. 25 and the gospel concert on Feb. 28 featuring Hornets, Stephanie Brown and Chris Nusbaum.
Canida said, “The Black History Month Planning Committee has created a robust February, that our campus community will find engaging, challenging and rewarding. But on a personal note, I’m most looking forward to the virtual gospel concert. I love gospel music! We will have approximately 13 phenomenally talented singers, who are going to bless the souls of everyone attending.”
Co-sponsor, Johnson Health Center’s Associate Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Justin E. Mercer, Sr. said, “Black History Month is near and dear to our hearts because Johnson Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center. Federally Qualified Health Centers were birthed out of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s after an interaction with civil rights activist John Lewis during the Bloody Sunday Massacre.”
The health center opened in 1998 and is named in honor of Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, the first Black physician to serve at Lynchburg General Hospital. Mercer said, “ Given our foundation is neatly woven in the fabric of Black History Month, it was a delight to partner.
Mercer also noted that the Johnson Health Center has a long-standing relationship with the University of Lynchburg that he hopes to continue as they work together to be change-agents in the area of Diversity Equity and Inclusion for the foreseeable future.
All events are virtual and may be accessed via the links below.
On February 17 – “Creating Equity in Your Sandbox” with Matthew Woods
On February 20 – Kuumba Dancers Virtual
The Black History Month Planning Committee and their feature sponsor, the Johnson Health Center are proud to celebrate Black Life, Black Art and Black Culture.