As we enter Black History Month, the School of Law and The University of Texas at Austin have planned a wealth of events, workshops, showcases, and celebrations. This range of activity allows all Longhorns to explore the history of Black experience on The Forty Acres, to give a platform to the Black voices of UT today, and to imagine what our future campus could look like for our whole community.
Below, we are sharing (with permission) a comprehensive listing of events and stories that celebrate and recognize Black history and culture, at UT Austin and beyond, assembled by Jessica Sinn of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Highlights on campus include “Warfield Week,” a series of events celebrating the life and Legacy of Dr. John Lewis Warfield; a student luncheon with Texas Law Prof. Norma V. Cantú; the Barbara Jordan National Forum; and Black History Month Kids’ Day.
At Texas Law, we will present the Virgil C. Lott Medal, named for the law school’s first Black graduate, to DeMetris Sampson ’80, at a gala dinner on February 16. Two days later, on February 18, we will host Prof. D. Wendy Greene, of the Drexel University Kline School of Law, for the second event in our Diverse Voices Speaker Series, presented by Texas Law’s Office for Equity and Inclusion.
Also happening this month is the eighth annual Sissy Farenthold Endowed Lecture in Peace, Social Justice, and Human Rights, presented by the law school’s Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center. This year’s talk, held at Houston’s Rothko Chapel, will feature Dorothy Roberts, the acclaimed University of Pennsylvania law professor, on the topic, “The Long Struggle to Abolish Reproductive Slavery.”
Please return to this space and follow Texas Law’s social media channels for more information on Black History Month activities, and for profiles of Texas Law students, alumni, faculty, and staff throughout February.
Celebrating Black History Month
A listing of events and stories that celebrate and recognize Black history and culture
by Jessica Sinn
February marks Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions Black Americans have made to this country and to reflect upon the continued struggle for racial justice. Listed below are some upcoming campus and community events, theatrical performances and stories that pay homage to Black history and culture.
February 1—Longhorns Talk
Texas Athletics is hosting a Longhorns Talk event featuring a panel discussion, a spoken word performance and a self-guided tour of the Hall of Fame on Feb. 1, 12-1 p.m. at the North End Zone Building (NEZ, first floor).
February 2—’Culture Shock: Tournament of Champions’
University Unions is hosting a showcase of Black talent at the upcoming “Culture Shock: Tournament of Champions” on Feb. 2, 6-8:30 p.m. at the William C. Powers Student Activity Center Auditorium (WCP, room 1.402).
February 6-10—Warfield Week
Join the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the inaugural Warfield Week, a series of virtual and in-person events celebrating the life and Legacy of Dr. John Lewis Warfield. Visit the Warfield Center website for times and locations.
February 8—New Faculty Lightning Talk Series
Associate Professor of Architecture Charles L. Davis II will give a talk titled “From Settler Colonies to Black Utopias: the Dialectics of American Architecture in Black and White” at a New Faculty Lightning Talk Series hosted on Feb. 8, 11:30 a.m. at the Engineering Education and Research Center (EER, room 2.518).
February 10—Dance Theatre of Harlem
Texas Performing Arts presents a special performance by the Dance Theatre of Harlem on Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m. at the Bass Concert Hall.
February 11—Performance by Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant
Texas Performing Arts presents a performance by Grammy Award-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant on Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m. at Bass Concert Hall.
February 14—’Matters of the Heart’ with Demetrius Harmon
The African American Culture Committee presents a speaker event featuring Demetrius Harmon titled “Matters of the Heart” on Feb. 14, 6 p.m. at the Texas Union (UNB Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom). Topics include self-love and mental health; snacks and mocktails will be provided. More information to be posted on the Texas Unions website.
February 20—Student Luncheon with Norma Cantu
The LBJ School of Public Affairs is hosting a student luncheon with Norma Cantu, former U.S. assistant secretary of education for civil rights. More information to be posted on the LBJ School of Public Affairs website.
February 21—Barbara Jordan National Forum
The LBJ School of Public Affairs is hosting its annual Barbara Jordan National Forum, featuring Eddie Bernice Johnson, former U.S. Congresswoman, as the keynote speaker and recipient of the Barbara Jordan Public Service Award. More information to be posted on the LBJ School of Public Affairs website.
February 25—Black Royalty Ball
The African American Culture Committee and Queer & Trans Black Indigenous People of Color Agency are hosting the Black Royalty Ball on Feb. 25, 5 p.m. at the William C. Powers Student Activity Center (WCP Ballroom). More information to be posted on the Texas Unions website.
Save the Date: March 6-April 14—’For Whites’ Exhibition
The School of Architecture is hosting an exhibition titled “For Whites: Contextualizing Race and Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.” The event, to be held at Bebane Gallery, will illuminate and investigate the racist signage discovered in Battle Hall during the course of renovations in 2021. More information to be posted on the School of Architecture website.
Save the Date: March 3— ‘Best Barbarian’ Faculty Book Talk
The John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies is hosting a book talk spotlighting Associate Professor of English Roger Reeve’s new book “Best Barbarian” on March 3, 2-3 p.m. at the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center (WCP, room 2.120).
February 4—Solar Saturday Block Party
Kick off Black History Month at this inaugural “Solar Saturday” Block Party event on Feb. 4, 2-6 p.m. at the The George Washington Carver Museum.
February 23—Black History Month Live Reading
Celebrate Black History Month with a live reading and “Mini Book Buzz” presentation on Feb. 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Pflugerville Public Library.
February 25—Black History Month Kids’ Day!
Bring the family to “Black History Month Kids’ Day,” a community-wide event featuring crafts, storytelling and activities on Feb. 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the George Washington Carver Museum.
Celebrations & Honors
Step Up to UT’s Front Porch
Last spring, the Center for Community Engagement hosted the grand opening of the John S. and Drucie R. Chase Building, named in honor of the first Black student to graduate from UT’s School of Architecture and the first licensed Black architect in the state of Texas. View some photo highlights from the celebration.
MLK Day Rally & March
On Monday January 16, the university joined Huston-Tillotson University and the Austin community in celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual MLK Community March and Rally. View photos from the event.
Black History Month Cookout Recap
View some photo highlights from last year’s Black History Month Cookout hosted by University Housing and Dining and several campus partners, including the DDCE and the Black Faculty and Staff Association.
Carrying the Legacy
Since 1986, The University of Texas at Austin has held the Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights to honor the impact and legacy of Heman Marion Sweatt, the first Black student admitted to the School of Law at UT after the prolonged court case Sweatt v. Painter. Read about the 2022 symposium, which focused on one of the most important issues of our time: health equity.
Graduating With Honors
Last year, Ada Cecilia Collins was awarded a posthumous degree at the university’s 139th spring commencement ceremony. Visit the DDCE’s news blog to learn more about her civil rights work and achievements.
Art & Culture
The Chase Building Archives
Visit the Black Diaspora Archive to turn back the pages of time to the 1950s, when the historic John S. and Drucie R. Chase Building was first built in East Austin. Go to this UT Libraries site to find photos, videos and oral histories told by longtime members of East Austin’s historically Black community.
UT’s Stories of Integration
Download a free copy of the new audiobook “Overcoming” to learn about UT’s story of integration read by members of the Precursors, staff and alumni. Opening with the watershed Supreme Court case Sweatt vs. Painter, the audiobook covers various challenges and triumphs faced by African Americans—from segregated housing and extracurricular activities to the rise in Black power and protests to the process of increasing Black student enrollment and faculty representation.
‘The Third Reconstruction’
In his new book “The Third Reconstruction: America’s Struggle for Racial Justice in the Twenty-First Century,” (Basic Books, ’22), LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor Peniel Joseph explores the racial reckoning that unfolded in 2020 and argues how it marked the climax of a third reconstruction.
Peace to the Queen
Read a Q&A with Ja’nell Ajani, a doctoral candidate in the Department of American Studies who served as lead curator for the “Peace to the Queen” exhibit at the George Washington Carver Museum. The exhibit, which was on display last fall, featured powerful images of African American women and girls captured by New York City-based photographer Jamel Shabazz.
Destigmatizing Art History
Art History Professor Eddie Chambers addresses the racial gap in art history majors in an article published in Art Journal. Read the full article to learn more about the lack of Black students in this field, and the changes that need to be made to bridge this gap.
An Emancipation Story
Visit the Moody College of Communication website to watch Radio-Television-Film Professor Ya’Ke Smith’s new documentary about Juneteenth, which offers viewers a powerful and nuanced overview of this important holiday that commemorates the official date marking the end of slavery in the United States.
Black TV Through the Years
Read about the history of Black television–from the 1940s to present day– in this Moody College of Communication story featuring Radio-Television-Film Assistant Professor Adrien Sebro. You can also watch him discuss his research in this Moody Mentors video.
The Way of Roger
Visit the College of Liberal Arts’ Life & Letters website to read about the life and work of Roger Reeves, associate professor of English and author of “Best Barbarians,” a book of poems that explore the complexities of humanity, including climate change, love, loss and anti-Black racism.
UT’s Racial Geography
Race and Architecture at UT
In an essay published on the School of Architecture website, Assistant Professor of Architecture Tara Dudley explores Battle Hall’s racial past and shares how she researches and teaches the difficult and contested histories of UT’s built environment.
Racial Geography Tour of UT Austin
Take a virtual “Racial Geography Tour” for an interactive guided exploration of the historic origins of UT Austin’s buildings, landmarks and spaces. The tour is led by Edmund T. Gordon, vice provost for diversity and founding chairman emeritus of the Department of African & African Diaspora in the College of Liberal Arts
Black Austin Tours
Take a deep dive into Austin’s Black history with tour guide and UT Austin alum Javier Wallace. This one-mile walking tour takes guests to various sites and landmarks in East Austin’s historic neighborhoods. Visit the Black Austin Tours website for ticket information.