The struggle to obtain, maintain and promote the right to vote will be the focus of MTSU’s 2020 celebration of Black History Month.
“African Americans and the Vote” is the election-year theme characterizing a month full of events celebrating hard-fought battles in the quest for African American enfranchisement.
The kickoff was held Monday, Feb. 3, in the first floor atrium of the Student Union. Members of the Black History Month Committee shared cake and refreshments and informed the public about the lineup of events.
A voter registration table, courtesy of the MTSU chapter of the American Democracy Project, also was available for those who want to vote in the March 3 Super Tuesday primary. Monday was the last day to register to be eligible.
Some of the highlighted events for the month include:
• The Black History Month keynote address, which will be delivered by Angela Rye, chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based political advocacy firm IMPACT Strategies, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building.
In addition to her lobbying work, Rye serves as a political commentator for Cable News Network and political analyst for National Public Radio. She serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee and the Women in Empowerment Network.
• “Always in Season,” an award-winning documentary about the historical relevance of lynching in America, which will be shown at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building.
The film’s producer, Jacqueline Olive, will be on hand for a question-and-answer session after the viewing.
• A discussion on “Election Protection and Voting Rights in the 2020 Election” from Dr. Sekou Franklin, an associate professor of political science and international affairs, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Room S118 of the Business and Aerospace Building.
Franklin also will facilitate “Healing Justice and Legal Redress with the Free Hearts Organization: A Fee Waiver Clinic to Resolve Fees, Debts and Fines for Formerly Incarcerated Persons,” an all-day event set Thursday, Feb. 28, at Walnut House, 116 N. Walnut St. in Murfreesboro.
• The presentation to Dr. Leah Lyons, interim associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a professor of French, of the annual John Pleas Faculty Award at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, in the Sam H. Ingram Building, 2269 Middle Tennessee Blvd. in Murfreesboro.
The John Pleas Faculty Award is presented each year to a black faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service. It was established in 1997 to honor Pleas, a professor emeritus of psychology.
• The traditional Unity Luncheon, a celebration of “unsung heroes” in the local African American community, which is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, in the Student Union Ballroom. Yanika Smith-Bartley, vice president and special counsel of Nashville-based insurer Asurion, will deliver the address.
Unity Luncheon tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for students and $350 for a table of 10 people. To make reservations, go to https://tinyurl.com/knmeono. The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, Feb. 6. The list of this year’s honorees can be found here.
• A lecture from Nicola Buccola, founding director of the Frederick Douglass Forum on Law, Rights and Justice at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, on “Frederick Douglass’ Plea for Free Speech and Open Inquiry” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building.
All events are open to the public. With the exception of the Unity Luncheon, all events are free.
For a complete list of African American History Month events at MTSU, go to www.mtsu.edu/aahm/docs/bhm-calendar.pdf or click the image below.
For more information, contact Daniel Green, director of the Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs and chair of the MTSU Black History Month Committee, at 615-898-5812 or email@example.com.
— Gina Logue (Gina.Logue@mtsu.edu)
Photo: MTSU accounting professor Lara Daniel, right, helps student Kara Lillard with voter registration Monday, Feb. 3, in the Student Union Atrium as part of the university’s kickoff of 2020 Black History Month activities. Daniel is representing the MTSU chapter of the American Democracy Project. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)