Events marking Black History Month at East Carolina University ranged from talks on health disparities and HIV/AIDS awareness to “soul food.” The celebration of various aspects of American culture will continue into March with a gala honoring women with Dr. Maya Angelou as the keynote speaker.
The variety of topics during Black History Month may have exposed some students and faculty and staff to aspects of culture in America they might not know much about, said Khadine McNeil, interim director of the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center at ECU.
|The group MPK performs in Wright Auditorium Feb. 13 in “Apollo Night,” a talent show that is part of Black History Month activities. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)
“This month’s events were the collaboration of several groups on campus working together,” she said. “We hope participants gained a great appreciation for unity. We wanted to bring more awareness of different cultures to the campus.”
Student activities included the annual “Apollo Night” at Hendrix Theatre and participation in the first National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. At that event, 45 students promised to get tested for HIV and to educate themselves about the virus.
Continuing the theme of unity into March will be the first Women of Distinction gala March 23 at the Rock Springs Center with Angelou as speaker.
Sponsored by the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center and the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, the gala will honor ECU women who have worked to further the causes of women’s empowerment, multiculturalism, equity and social justice. In 1981, Angelou was appointed to a lifetime position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. She has authored 12 books, including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and her most recent work, “A Song Flung Up to Heaven.” In 1993, she became the second poet in U.S. history to be asked by the president to write and recite an original work at his inauguration. She wrote “On the Pulse of Morning” for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.
McNeill said that Angelou is the embodiment of the qualities they will honor during the gala.“?She is an icon. She works for social justice, is an eloquent speaker and an educator,” she said.
Also at the event, the Linda Allred Profiles in Leadership Award will be announced. The award recognizes outstanding women whose leadership roles have made a significant impact on the ECU community. It honors Allred, a psychology department faculty member who died in December, 2005.
“Throughout the year, the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center works hard to highlight various awareness months. For March, our programming will focus on women’s history,” McNeill said.