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Mason students celebrate Black African Heritage Month

February 5, 2018   /   by John Hollis

African-Americans are a virtual potpourri of different shades of color, eclectic interests and varying personal experiences.

That’s the core message George Mason University’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education (ODIME) wants to spread as activities for February’s Black African Heritage Month get underway.

“Black stories or African heritage stories are different across the globe,” said Brandi J. Blake, the assistant director of ODIME. “Our people are a rich people who have gifts and talents and unique abilities that go far beyond that monolith. So the narrative is different with each individual.”

Among the more notable upcoming events are the Feb. 13 “Race and Policing in the U.S.” discussion with Mason’s Angela Hattery, Earl Smith and Devon Johnson and the Feb. 19 appearance by Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, for the 2018 Sojourner Truth Lecture. Both events are sponsored by Mason’s Women and Gender Studies. Other ODIME-sponsored events include a Black Feminism talk with Michelle Allen on Feb. 12 and the Black Excellence Gala on Feb. 23.

This year’s Black African Heritage Month celebrations take on added significance with April’s upcoming 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968, Blake said.

ODIME officials continue to remind Mason students that King was just 39 years old at the time of his death. He was younger still when he began his activism and making a difference, eventually receiving the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and leading a tireless effort of nonviolent resistance that helped pave the way for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

It’s a lesson they hope to impart to all Mason students.

“You’re capable,” Blake said of the message she wants students to take away. “You can affect real change in the world. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you are in life and no matter what scale.”

Here’s a full list of Black African Heritage Month activities at Mason.