Emory celebrates Black History Month with a bevy of events | Emory University | Atlanta GA

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Emory celebrates Black History Month with a bevy of events | Emory University | Atlanta GA


With events spanning the entire month of February — even the bonus day this year — Black History Month promises to have something in store for everyone. From book readings and lectures to performances and beyond, this is a time to come together in community and pave a better way forward. 

Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to participate in activities that explore the Black experience in America, in both historical and present-day contexts. 

On Sunday, Feb. 18, award-winning poet and podcast host Major Jackson will give a public reading at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The event, held in Emerson Concert Hall, will be followed by a book signing. Jackson’s upbringing in Philadelphia touches several of his poems. His poems and essays have been published in American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, Orion Magazine, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry London and World Literature Recently.

“In his poem ‘On Disappearing’ Major Jackson begins by stating ‘I have not disappeared.’ Our celebrations of Black History Month serve to punctuate the fact that, against unimaginable odds and in the face of extreme trauma, Black and African Americans have not only not disappeared, we have affirmed our absolute right to grow, thrive, contribute, lead and excel in this country,” says Valeda F. Dent, Emory’s vice provost of libraries and museum. “Literature and poetry are two pathways to understanding our complex history and visualizing our glorious future. Major Jackson’s poetry is an important part of this tapestry.”

Later in the month, the 20th-annual Hamilton E. Holmes Memorial Lecture takes place at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Named in honor of the first African American to graduate from the Emory School of Medicine, the program is free and open to the community. This year’s presentation, “I am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams: A Discussion on Black Males in Medicine,“ will be a discussion between Dr. John Johnson, president of the Emory University Medical Alumni Board; Dr. Colin V. Washington, associate director of Emory internal medicine residency program; and Dr. Tuzo Mwarumba, founder of the Emory Chapter of Black Men in White Coats and member of the MD Class of 2025.

The panel members will discuss their unique journeys as Black males in medicine working to foster health equity.

“I am proud that Emory’s faculty, staff, and Trustees demanded right to admit Dr. Holmes to our institution, and in so doing changed the law in Georgia. Likewise, I am proud of the work that we continue to do to diversify the field of medicine, particularly given that nationally Black men are going into this profession,” says Allen Lee, director in the School of Medicine’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. “I hope this year’s conversation, centered on Black male success in the journey through medicine, will be able to inspire others to join in this work. It will take all of us to equitably serve our community.”

The Hamilton E. Holmes Lecture is hosted by the School of Medicine and is open to the entire community. Attendees can register for free to attend in person or online.

Among the celebrations on the Oxford College campus is a conversation with Dean Badia Ahad and Tameka Cage Conley, assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Oxford College. Titled “For a Time Such as This,” the event is inspired by Ahad’s book, “Afro-Nostalgia,” which focuses on joy, nostalgia, literature and art in contemporary Black culture. 

The conversation will “center ideologies, theories and aesthetic considerations brought forth in Dean Ahad’s brilliant book, ‘Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture,’” says Cage Conley. “The conversation will also include concepts of identity, representation, art, culture, foodways, civil rights in the modern era and, perhaps most critically, Dean Ahad’s vision for Oxford College, especially amidst Emory/Oxford’s Twin Memorial project, which is a reckoning and remembering.”

“It’s an honor to be a part of the Creative Writing program’s Distinguished Speaker and Lecture Series with Dr. Cage Conley,” says Ahad. “She is an excellent writer and scholar, and I look forward to our discussion on a range of topics relating to Black culture today — in the Oxford community and beyond.”

The event takes place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, in Phi Gamma Hall, and is free to attend. 

Atlanta campus events


Thursday, Feb. 1

“Lift Every Voice and Sing! An ‘Informance’ Evening with James Abbington”

7 p.m., Cannon Chapel sanctuary and online

Associate professor of church music and worship James Abbington will present an educational performance designed to share the rich heritage of Black sacred music composers. “Lift Every Voice and Sing! An Evening with James Abbington” is free and open to the public with advance registration required. In-person and livestream options are both available. A reception will follow in the atrium of Candler School of Theology.

The event will be neither a typical concert nor a standard lecture, though it holds elements of each. “It will be an ‘informance,’” Abbington says. “It’s a term that has become very popular — particularly in educational circles — to define a musical presentation that has a foundation in teaching and learning.”

The informance will be split into two parts: the first half will focus on hymns adopted, adapted and assimilated from western European and white American hymn writers; the second portion will emphasize prayer and praise hymns of the Black religious experience from 1885 to 1925, what Abbington refers to as “second-generation spirituals and first-generation gospels.”

Wednesday, Feb. 7

Why 5 Es are Better than 4: Equity in Injury Prevention

8 a.m., Online

Join the Emory School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as they host Dr. Sadiqa Kendi for DEI Grant Rounds. Kendi will speak on equity and injury prevention. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. 

Thursday, Feb. 8

The Journey to Healing for One Emory: Racial Healing Circle

1 p.m., Online

The Emory University and Emory Healthcare community is invited to participate in a safe, brave and responsible space to share stories of connection and humanity.  The Racial Healing Circles, happening throughout the spring 2024 semester, are hosted by the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative. The event is free, but registration is required.

Sunday, Feb. 11

Black History Month service

11 a.m., Cannon Chapel 

Head to Cannon Chapel on Feb. 11 for the Beloved Community Protestant Worship Black History Month service. The Rev. Darlene M. Hutto, consultant to the Forum for Theological Education, will preach.

Tuesday, Feb. 13

The Power of Their Stories 

12 p.m., Online

Two pioneering sisters, doctors and scientists, in the School of Medicine share their stories about creating an inclusive climate and challenging health disparities in the Black community. This event is hosted by the School of Medicine’s Office of Equity and Inclusion and is free and open to the public. 

Thursday, Feb. 15

People and Pathology: Understanding Our Humanity in Saving Lives

4 p.m., Online

Hosted by the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, this “Conversations on Racism” discussion group will hear from invited speaker Sharon Stroye, director of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative.

Sunday, Feb. 18

Poetry reading by Major Jackson

3 p.m., Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Emerson Concert Hall

Major Jackson, award-winning poet and host of the podcast “The Slowdown,” will give a public reading at Emory University, immediately followed by a book signing. The event celebrates Black History Month and is part of the annual Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series founded by Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

Jackson, who also serves as the poetry editor of the Harvard Review, is the author of six books of poetry, including his most recent, “Razzle Dazzle: New & Selected Poems” (2023).

Seating is limited and attendees are urged to reserve their free ticket on the Schwartz Center website. Free parking near the Schwartz Center is available on Sundays in the Fishburne Deck or Lowergate South Deck

Soul Food Gospel Fest

3 p.m., Emory Student Center Multipurpose Rooms

The Emory Voices of Inner Strength Gospel Choir will host Soul Food Gospel Fest, an event designed to bring together various groups in the community and to celebrate the love of Jesus and Black History Month. There will be gospel music from various gospel choirs in the area, liturgical dance, spoken word, trivia and games. Soul food and refreshments will also be provided, and attendees should RSVP. 

Wednesday, Feb. 21

20th Annual Hamilton E. Holmes Memorial Lecture

5 p.m., James B. Williams Medical Education Building, Room 110, and online

This year’s Hamilton E. Holmes Memorial Lecture is a panel discussion that focuses on the topic “I am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams: A Discussion on Black Males in Medicine.” Panelists will discuss their unique journeys as Black males in medicine who are working to foster health equity.

A reception will follow the event in the School of Medicine Lobby. The lecture is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

Wednesday, Feb. 28

Conversations in Medicine: Using Race to Diagnose Kidney Disease

5 p.m., Online

Dr. Amaka Eneanya will be leading DEI Grand Rounds with the College of Medicine. The webinar will focus on race and kidney disease as part of the “Controversies in Medicine” series. The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, Feb. 29

“Our Transformational Renaissance is Black Excellence (T.R.I.B.E.)” Webinar

12 p.m., Online

In recognition of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative is hosting a webinar entitled “Our Transformational Renaissance is Black Excellence (T.R.I.B.E).” Wendy M. Nicholson will present her dissertation research and have an intimate conversation alongside Sharon Stroye about how Black women cannot afford to risk their lives and well-being for anti-Black systems. This session is open to the entire Emory Community and is part of the National Day of Racial Healing series “A Journey to Healing for One Emory.” 

Oxford campus events


Tuesday, Feb. 13

Oral History: Black History Month Edition

12 p.m., Dean’s Dining Room 

This oral presentation will focus on how policy and law impacted the Black experience immediately following slavery through today. Students can expect to learn how history informs the now and the importance of how policy has a direct impact on the lived experience of Black Americans throughout history. 

“For a Time Such as This:” Dean Badia Ahad in Conversation with Tameka Cage Conley

7 p.m., Phi Gamma Hall

In celebration of Black History Month, Dean Badia Ahad and Tameka Cage Conley will join in a conversation inspired by Ahad’s book, “Afro-Nostalgia,” which centers on joy, nostalgia, literature and art in contemporary Black culture. Discussion will include identity and institutional dynamics that define America’s modern, socio-cultural landscape, as well as Diasporic concerns and interests that have influenced America. Ahad and Cage Conley will explore cultural questions about the journey of intention and guidance and what it means to make room for spontaneity, creativity, uniqueness and that most rich ingredient — fortitude — necessary to stand upright and vigilant for generations that follow.

Thursday, Feb. 15

Film screening of ‘Till’

6 p.m., Greer Forum

The Oxford Office of Diversity and Inclusion will show “Till,” based on the true story of Mamie Till-Bradley, an educator and activist who pursued justice after the murder of her 14-year-old son Emmett in August 1955.

Tuesday, Feb. 20

Seeking Justice: The Civil Rights Movement and the Federal Government

7 p.m., Oxford Student Center

The 2024 Dana Greene Distinguished Scholar Lecture features Kevin Kruse, professor of history and director of the Center for Collaborative History at Princeton University. Kruse will examine “Seeking Justice: The Civil Rights Movement and the Federal Government.” The event is free and open to the public. 

Monday, Feb. 26

“How I Got Over: Surviving Academic While Black” Panel

6:30 p.m., Mural Room 

This panel will feature Black faculty and staff who hold a terminal degree and is hosted by the Oxford Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Black Student Alliance of Oxford College; and the African and Caribbean Students Union. Panel members will answer questions about their experience and tips to conquer post-bachelor’s degrees. The event will be moderated by Wade Manora, Jr., director of student diversity, equity and inclusion at Oxford.

Thursday, Feb. 29

The Cookout

6 p.m., Greer Forum

This BBQ dinner will center around the Black community’s cultural experience of summer cookouts. The event will boast a DJ, a 360-camera display and a host of beloved games.


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