February events at Vanderbilt celebrate, explore African American experience

Events in February at Vanderbilt University are taking a look at the central role African Americans played in American history and their experiences today through art, discussion, lectures and portrayals in film.

Perry Wallace (photo by Jerry Ellis/The Tennessean)
Perry Wallace (photo by Jerry Ellis/The Tennessean)

The university welcomed its most diverse class in history this academic year—a year that marked the 50th anniversary on Dec. 4 of a young African American man from North Nashville, Perry Wallace, breaking barriers at Memorial Gym and in the Southeastern Conference.

Vanderbilt has marked the 50th anniversary of that historic basketball season and honored the legacies of the two players who integrated Vanderbilt Athletics, Wallace and Godfrey Dillard, with a series of activities and events. To learn more, visit the Legacy of Courage website.

Among the events scheduled in February are:


"Blueprint 2," painting by Omari Booker
“Blueprint 2,” painting by Omari Booker
  • An exhibition at Vanderbilt Divinity School by Nashville studio artist Omari Booker, whose works include themes of social justice and Nashville’s changing neighborhoods.
  • The university’s annual Walter Murray Lecture, set for Monday, Feb. 5, that will explore the Klu Klux Klan of the 1920s and the legacy of American bigotry. This is the 10th year for the lecture named for Murray, a Nashville native and Pearl High School graduate who was one of Vanderbilt’s first African American undergraduates. During his time at Vanderbilt, he was vice president of the Student Government Association and a founder of the Afro-American Student Association—now known as the Black Student Association. He later became the first African American to serve on Vanderbilt University’s Board of Trust after being elected a Young Alumni Trustee in April 1970. He served on the board until 1972.
  • A talk about the criminalization of black girls as part of the Peabody College Dean’s Diversity Lecture Series.
  • A discussion regarding African American women and tokenism in the business and tech industries hosted by the Wondr’y, the university’s center for cross-disciplinary collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information about these events and others, visit the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center website.

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