MURFREESBORO -- "African-Americans in Times of War: Current Day Warriors for Social Justice" is the theme for the 2018 observance of Black History Month at MTSU.
The kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, in the Student Union's first floor atrium. Cake and refreshments will be served, and the complete lineup of activities will be unveiled.
Author, minister and motivational speaker Eric Thomas will deliver the keynote address at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, in the Student Union ballroom. A high-school dropout who was homeless in Detroit for two years, Thomas was encouraged by a minister to go back to school.
After earning his bachelor's degree from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, and his master's and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University, Thomas created the Advantage program at MSU to target "high-risk college students by improving their study habits and increasing their retention rates," according to his website, www.etinspires.com.
Thomas's consulting firm has been hired to motivate and inspire the employees of such clients as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.
Kevin Douglass Greene, the great-great-grandson of iconic abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will be the featured speaker at the 22nd annual Unity Luncheon, which is slated for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, in the Student Union Ballroom.
He also will lead a free and informal roundtable discussion about his family tree from 3 to 5 p.m. in Room 220 of the Student Union.
A U.S. Army veteran, Greene spoke at the March 22, 2017, ceremony restoring his ancestor's name to a Nashville park. Known since 1935 as "Fred Douglas Park," the seven-acre plot of land was returned to its historically appropriate designation as "Frederick Douglass Park" by a vote of the Metro Nashville Parks Board.
While an MTSU student, Greene delivered numerous presentations on Frederick Douglass and the many other accomplished Douglass descendants. Greene earned his bachelor's degree in university studies from MTSU in 2006.
The Unity Luncheon, a staple of MTSU's Black History Month, honors unsung heroes who have made their communities better places to live. This year's honorees and their categories are:
John Harris, Advocate for Civility;
Mary Patterson Watkins, Contribution to Black Arts;
Barbara Tuckson, Education;
Raymond Bonner, Excellence in Sports;
Anthony McAdoo, Community Service.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students or $250 per table of 10 and can be purchased online at www.mtsu.edu/aahm.
• "Marshall," a 2017 film starring Chadwick Boseman as the first African-American United States Supreme Court Justice, will be shown six times on three consecutive evenings. Screenings are slated for 6 and 9 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 1-3, in the Student Union movie theater.
• The John Pleas Award will be presented at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, in the Tennessee Room of MTSU's James Union Building. The honor is bestowed annually upon a black faculty member who has shown excellence in teaching, research and service.
With the exception of the Unity Luncheon, all Black History Month activities are free and open to the public.
For information on other events, go to www.mtsu.edu/aahm or contact Daniel Green, director of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs and chair of the Black History Month Committee, at 615-898-5812 or firstname.lastname@example.org.