Black History Month Celebrated at Vanderbilt University

The 2020 Murray Lecture featuring Harvard professor Anthony Abraham Jack. (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt’s 2020 celebration of Black History Month included lectures, off-campus trips, community events and more to honor and reflect on the history, impact and contributions of African Americans throughout the country’s history and at the university.

For the second year, the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center sponsored a free excursion, traveling to Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the 2020 Black History Immersion Excursion. More than 60 students, faculty and staff learned about the history of slavery, key moments of and individuals involved in the Civil Rights Movement, mass incarceration, voting rights and more.

Vanderbilt’s 2020 celebration of Black History Month included lectures, off-campus trips, community events and more to honor and reflect on the history, impact and contributions of African Americans throughout the country’s history and at the university.

For the second year, the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center sponsored a free excursion, traveling to Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the 2020 Black History Immersion Excursion. More than 60 students, faculty and staff learned about the history of slavery, key moments of and individuals involved in the Civil Rights Movement, mass incarceration, voting rights and more.

The first stop on the Black History Immersion Excursion was a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Rosevelt Noble/Vanderbilt)
The first stop on the Black History Immersion Excursion was a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Rosevelt Noble/Vanderbilt)

Stops on the excursion included the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, the National African American Archives and Museum, the Whitney Plantation, the French Quarter and more. The trip was co-sponsored by the Office of Housing and Residential Experience and the Department of African American and Diaspora Studies.

Students on the Black History Immersion Excursion standing in front of a home in the French Quarter decorated for Mardi Gras (Rosevelt Noble/Vanderbilt)
Students on the Black History Immersion Excursion standing in front of a home in the French Quarter decorated for Mardi Gras. (Rosevelt Noble/Vanderbilt)

Anthony Abraham Jack was the keynote speaker for the 12th Annual Murray Lecture on Feb. 12. Jack is a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, an assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Murray Lecture featuring Harvard Professor Anthony Abraham Jack (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)
Murray Lecture featuring Harvard professor Anthony Abraham Jack. (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)

Jack, author of the book The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students, visited Vanderbilt through the Patterson Fellowship, a new program established in 2019 by best-selling author James Patterson, MA’70. The fellowship aims to bring distinguished visiting scholars to Vanderbilt, where they can stay for up to a week in a Residential College, discussing their work and interacting with students.

During his talk, Jack shared his research and scholarship related to the experiences that disadvantaged students often have in college, and the ways in which colleges can foster inclusion.

“We must move from simply worrying about access and who gets in, to inclusion—students’ experiences once they cross through the gates,” Jack said. “We must ensure that social class both symbolically and materially does not keep low-income students in secondary positions at first-rate institutions.”

Unveiling the Perry Wallace Way sign on Saturday, February 22. (John Russell/Vanderbilt)
Unveiling of the Perry Wallace Way sign on Feb. 22. (John Russell/Vanderbilt)

 On Feb. 22, the university officially dedicated “Perry Wallace Way,” the portion of 25th Avenue South recently named in honor of Vanderbilt trailblazer and Nashville native Perry Wallace, BE’70, the first African American to play varsity basketball in the Southeastern Conference.

More than 200 people attended the ceremony, including several members of Wallace’s family and a number of his teammates from both Vanderbilt and Pearl High School in Nashville. The program included remarks from Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. WenteInterim Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Interim Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, Metro Councilmember Burkley Allen and Vanderbilt men’s basketball head coach Jerry Stackhouse.

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Source: Vanderbilt University

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