Wilkes University Celebrates Black History Month

by Mandy Pennington
Black History Month at Wilkes

Wilkes University will host several events throughout February in honor of Black History Month.

In advance of the month’s start, a program commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was held on Tuesday, Jan 30. The event, which included speeches, songs, poetry and a performance from the Wilkes Step Team, celebrated the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is just one example of how students, faculty and staff came together to demonstrate our shared commitment to unity amidst diversity.

Junior psychology major Kobina Otoo, who delivered the invocation at the program, reflected, “Martin Luther King Jr. worked as hard as he did so that we could have events like this. People from all different backgrounds were in attendance and took part in celebrating Martin Luther King’s life. Whether it was through singing, poetry, speaking, or even the food. Everything was great.”

Other events to look forward to in February include:

The Fifth Annual Douglass Day Transcribe-a-Thon

Thursday, Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first floor of the E.S. Farley Library

Wilkes students and faculty are invited to take a hands-on approach to preserving Black history by participating in the fifth annual Douglass Day Transcribe-a-Thon. Attendees will transcribe historical documents related to the life of Frederick Douglass. Amy Sopchak-Joseph, assistant professor of history, explains that by joining in the transcribe-a-thon, participants will be making Black history “more accessible” to the public. No prior transcription experience is required to participate and anyone is welcome to drop in at any time. Pizza will be provided. 

Act Out Theatre Group Presents Lift Every Voice

Friday, Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Jean and Paul Adams Commons, Henry Student Center

The Office of Diversity Affairs and Act Out Theatre Group will present Lift Every Voice with a post-show discussion led by Jahmeel Powers. Based on real life events, this play addresses the impact of racism in an urban high school. Free for Wilkes University community members. Pizza will be provided. 

Lecture: “Frederick Douglass in Northeastern Pennsylvania” with E.J. Murphy

Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. in Breiseth Hall, Room 106

Join local historian E.J. Murphy as he discusses the connections Frederick Douglass had with Northeastern Pennsylvania. Murphy, a Program Coordinator for the Destination Freedom Program at the Waverly Community House, gives walking tours focused on Waverly’s participation in the Underground Railroad. During the lecture, Murphy will discuss our area’s participation in the Underground Railroad and the ways in which Frederick Douglass interacted with the region.

In addition to the events listed above, Black history is being honored around campus and on social media:

Black History Display in the Farley Library

The Farley Library has set up a Black History Month display with books and media that will be showcased on the main floor of the library throughout February.

The Manuscript Society Spotlights Black Authors and Artists on Instagram

The Manuscript Society will be highlighting Black history throughout February on their Instagram account, @wilkes_manuscript. They plan to post weekly book recommendations written by Black authors as well as daily highlights of works by Black artists, poets and authors. At the end of the month, the Manuscript Society will host a poetry reading that celebrates Black voices.

Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Creates Spotify Playlist Highlighting Black Artists

GSA has crafted a playlist celebrating music by Black artists. To listen, check out their Spotify account, Wilkes GSA.

All of these activities are made possible through the support of the Office of Diversity Affairs, the E.S. Farley Library, the Division of Global Cultures and our students, faculty and staff. 

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