UM Sets Annual Black History Month Observances

Award-winning writer and teacher Clint Smith's address highlights events

Clint Smith, National Poetry Slam champion and Individual Poetry Slam finalist, is to speak Feb. 26 at UM as keynote speaker for Black History Month. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Clint Smith, National Poetry Slam champion and Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, is the keynote speaker for Black History Month observances Feb. 26 at the University of Mississippi.

Smith’s address begins at 6 p.m. in Fulton Chapel. Admission is free, but tickets must be obtained from the Ole Miss Box Office in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts beginning Feb. 1.

“Over the years, notable African-Americans such as Cornel West, Marian Wright Edelman, Michael Eric Dyson, Myrlie Evers-Williams and Eunique Jones Gibson have been invited to provide the Black History Month keynote address,” said Shawnboda Mead, director of the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. “We believe Mr. Smith will be equally as dynamic and that he will provide a very memorable experience for everyone in attendance.”

Mead said she hopes that all members of the university community will take advantage of this opportunity to hear from Smith at the signature event of Black History Month 2018.

“He has spoken at the U.S. Department of Education, the IB Conference of the Americas, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and has been featured on, Upworthy and TVOne’s ‘Verses and Flow,'” Mead said. “His TED Talk ‘The Danger of Silence’ has been viewed more than 2 million times and was named one of the top 20 TED Talks of 2014.

“As our university strives to be a leader in racial reconciliation and inclusivity, this year’s keynote address is a continuation of our educational efforts. Therefore, we look forward to engaging with Mr. Smith and learning more about critical pedagogy, mass incarceration, the intersection of art and activism, how literacy shapes the formation of adolescent identity, and youth civic education.”

Smith is a writer, teacher and doctoral candidate at Harvard University studying education, incarceration and inequality. He has taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year in 2013 by the Maryland Humanities Council.

The BHM Opening Celebration is scheduled for 4-5:30 p.m. Feb. 1 in Fulton Chapel. Program participants include the UM Gospel Choir, Chancellor Jeffery Vitter and Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. It also will feature the presentation of the annual “Lift Every Voice” Awards.

The Black Student Union’s fifth annual Black History Month Gala is 6 p.m. Feb. 9 in The Inn at Ole Miss. Admission is free for UM students, faculty and staff. Tickets will be available from Jan. 22 through the Ole Miss Box Office.

Other scheduled activities include:

Feb. 7 – Panel Discussion: Speaking for the Culture, 7 p.m., Bryant Hall

Feb. 8 – Lecture:Because of Her We Can” by Constance Slaughter-Harvey, 5 p.m., Weems Auditorium

Feb. 8 and 11 – BHM Film Series: “Marshall,” 8 p.m., the Grove (rain location: Turner Center, Room 205)

Feb. 9 – Black Student Union Fifth Annual Black History Month Gala and 50th Anniversary Celebration, 6 p.m., The Inn at Ole Miss

Feb. 10 – Oxford Film Festival “Circles” screening, 4:15 p.m., Malco Oxford Commons

Feb. 10 – Oxford Film Festival: “The Long Shadow” and “Here I’ll Stay” screening, 5 p.m., Oxford Conference Center

Feb. 13 – Soul Food Luncheon, noon-1:30 p.m., Luckyday Residential College cafeteria

Feb. 15 – Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement Goes to Memphis: “The Color Purple” performance, depart Oxford 4 p.m., curtain time 7:30 p.m., Orpheum Theatre

Feb. 19 – “Teach Us All” screening and discussion, 6 p.m., Turner Center, Room 205

Feb. 20 – The Conversation Continues: K-12 Educators Discuss the State of Education for African-American Students in Mississippi, 6 p.m., Guyton Hall, Room 215

Feb. 21 – BarberShop Talk, 5 pm, CIECC, Stewart Hall, Room 129.

Feb. 21 – Discovering Black History though UM Libraries Databases, open house, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., intensive sessions, 4-6 p.m., J.D. Williams Library

Feb. 22 – Lecture: “The History of the Fisk Jubilee Singers,” by Paul Kwami, 1 p.m., Nutt Auditorium

Feb. 22 – BHM Concert: Fisk Jubilee Singers, 7:30 p.m., Ford Center

Feb. 26 – Southern Music Symposium, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics

Co-sponsors for the university’s BHM observances include University Lecture Series, Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, School of Education, Arch Dalrymple III Department of History, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of African American Studies, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Black Student Union.

For a full list of sponsors and calendar of events, visit