In order to understand our future, we must reflect on our past. During the month of February, many groups and organizations at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, reflect on significant contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout our nation’s history. Community and campus activities planned this month include a series of films, literature, and lectures.
UT participated in the national celebration of Frederick Douglass Day on February 14 by joining via LiveStream from the National Museum of African American Museum of History and Culture. Historians spoke about the renowned activist, statesman, orator and writer and participants watched dramatic performances of some of Douglass’s speeches. Volunteers helped transcribe the historical records of the Freedman’s Bureau during the Smithsonian’s online “transcribe-a-thon.”
There are still several events on campus, hosted by organizations across the UT community. The Center for Student Engagement has organized a screening of the movie “Lincoln” in John C. Hodges Library Auditorium on Sunday, February 18. The first lecture of the African American Literature Series featuring noted poet, Clint Smith, will be held in Room 210 of the Alumni Memorial Building and is hosted by the Division of Multicultural Student Life. Events will culminate on March 1, with the third annual Fleming-Morrow Distinguished Lecture in African American History, and will feature Thavolia Glymph, professor of History, Duke University.
The Tabernacle Church held a “Celebration of the Music and Life of Paul Robeson,” son of a former slave turned preacher and celebrated athlete, scholar, and performer on February 11. Robeson recorded and collaborated with Jewish artists in the Knoxville community. The event featured live music from Knoxville African American and Jewish community musicians and actors.
Throughout February, the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) will honor STEM professionals on their Twitter account whose work has moved forged the way in innovation. The NAI spotlights academic inventors with issued patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). With the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth, NAI has been able to tell the stories of inventors like Thomas Mensah, whose work in missile technology was critical to U.S. success in the Gulf War, and Cato Laurencin, who was honored by President Obama for his pioneering work on musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. NAI is also featuring African American student innovators this month.