Davidson College will mark Black History Month beginning next week with a series of events and exhibitions focusing on the influence of the Civil Rights Movement, both nationally and abroad. Nine public events between Monday, Feb. 4, and Feb. 20 include the college’s annual Wearn Lecture, on Feb. 12 by noted activist and academic Angela Davis; and an exhibit titled “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs and Germany.”
“The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs and Germany” has toured throughout Germany and the United States, and will be on display in the Brown Atrium of the Alvarez College Union from Feb. 4-March 1. It includes photographic prints, written reflections, and multimedia displays about the role that African Americans played in extending the Civil Rights Movement outside the U.S. — especially to West Germany. It demonstrates how civil rights and Black Power activists used white America’s condemnation of Nazi racism to expose and indict America’s own Jim Crow laws, arguing that “separate” can never be “equal.”
The exhibition also illuminates the extensive anti-imperialist and anti-fascist collaboration between African American activists, especially in the Black Panther Party, and members of the West German New Left. The exhibition received the Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award from the NAACP.
The exhibition grew out of a research project by Vassar College Professor of History Maria Höhn and Heidelberg Center for American Studies Associate Researcher Martin Klimke. Höhn will visit Davidson to present the exhibition’s opening lecture on Tuesday, February 5.
“Many are not aware that African Americans fought in Germany from the mid-1940s (with the army in WWII) to the 1970s (with the Black Panthers and the German SDS against the Vietnam War) and beyond,” said Davidson Associate Professor of History Thomas Pegelow Kaplan. “They served abroad during the Civil Rights Movement at home. The irony was that African American soldiers fighting for democracy overseas in many cases had more freedom than African Americans in America.”
Professor Pegelow Kaplan, who is organizing Davidson’s Black History month events with a group of fellow faculty members and students, plans to highlight the magnitude of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement.
“These movements were a significant period in history in places as local as the Davidson campus and Charlotte, but also around the world,” he said. “It is important to remember the struggles of these people and what they fought for so we can continue to combat racism locally and globally today.”
ANGELA DAVIS EVENTS
Political activist and academic Angela Davis will present two public talks on campus on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
She will deliver the college’s annual Wearn Lecture on the subject “Political Activism and Protest from the 1960s to the Age of Obama” beginning at 8pm in Duke Family Performance Hall. The lecture is free, but tickets are required. They are available at no charge at the Alvarez College Union box office from 10am to 4:30pm weekdays. They are also available for a $3 service charge when reserved by phone at 704-894-2135, or online at www.davidson.edu/tickets. If the hall is full on the evening of the lecture, her talk will be simulcast at no charge in the Union’s Smith 900 Room, adjacent to the performance hall.
Prof. Davis will also conduct a 5pm podium discussion that day in the Smith 900 Room of the Alvarez College Union about “Black Panthers in the 1960s and 1970s, Black GIs, and West German activists.” The free discussion supports the exhibit on the same theme.
Through her activism and scholarship, Prof. Davis has been deeply involved in the quest for economic, racial, and gender justice. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration, and the generalized criminalization of communities affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early 1970s as a person who was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List” and spent 18 months on trial and in jail before being acquitted of all charges.
She is a founding member “Critical Resistance,” a national organization dedicated to dismantling the prison system. The author of nine books, she has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America.
She taught for the last 15 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is now Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, an interdisciplinary PhD program, and of Feminist Studies. She has also taught at San Francisco State University, Mills College, and UC Berkeley, UCLA, Vassar, the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford University.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS
There is no charge to attend any of the Black History Month events, which are cosponsored by the Black Student Coalition, The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Education Department, the Ethnic Studies Concentration, the German Department, the History Department, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Public Lectures Committee, the Sociology Department and the Vann Center for Ethics. For information on any of the events, call 704-894-2284.
Here’s a list:
MONDAY, FEB. 4, to MARCH 1, weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Alvarez College Union Brown Atrium – The exhibition “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany.”
TUESDAY, FEB. 5, 11am, Alvarez College Union Smith 900 Room – A Common Hour-podium, panel discussion on “Racism and Civil Rights Struggles in Davidson.” Panelists include local activist Tony Abbott, Joe Howell ’64, Leslie Brown ’68 (the College’s first African American student), and former Davidson President John Kuykendall.
TUESDAY, FEB. 5, 7:30pm, Alvarez College Union Smith 900 Room – Prof. Maria Hoehn presents the opening lecture for the exhibit “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany”
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 6, 4pm, Chambers Building Baxter Davidson Room – Civic Engagement Council Justice Dialogue on social activism co-led by Associate Professor of Sociology Jessica Taft, and members of the Black Student Coalition and the Civic Engagement Council.
THURSDAY, FEB. 7, 7pm, Alvarez College Union Smith 900 Room – Screening of the film, The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, and presentation on “Who is Angela Davis? The Woman, the Activist, the Myth” – A Black Student Coalition event.
TUESDAY, FEB. 12, 5pm, Alvarez College Union Smith 900 Room – A podium discussion featuring renowned political activist and Professor Angela Davis: “Black Panthers and African American GIs in West Germany in the 1960s and 1970s.”
TUESDAY, FEB. 12, 8 p.m. in Duke Family Performance Hall – Keynote talk by Professor Angela Davis: “Political Activism and Protest from the 1960s to the Age of Obama.” Free, but tickets required. Available at the College Union box office, weekedays 10-4, or for a $3 service charge by phone at the ticket office at 704-894-2135, or online any time at http://www.davidson.edu/tickets. If the hall is full on the evening of the lecture, her talk will be simulcast in the Union’s Smith 900 Room, adjacent to the performance hall.
MONDAY, FEB. 18,, 7 p.m. in the Alvarez College Union Brown Atrium – A panel discussion on “African Americans in Post-Nazi Germany and Nixon’s United States.” Panelists will include African American veterans and members of the Black Panther Party.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20, 7pm, Alvarez College Union Sprinkle Room – A screening of the film “1967-72 Revolts in Film: Competing Representations in West Germany and the United States,” and a discussion of the film led by Professor of German Maggie McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Sociology Jessica Taft and Associate Professor of History Thomas Pegelow Kaplan.