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SU Celebrates African-American History Month

March on WashingtonSALISBURY, MD---This year’s national African-American History Month theme, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington,” reflects on those landmarks in U.S. history. Salisbury University joins in the celebration with a series of programs, from talks and performances to a film and special dinner.

Dr. Clara Small, SU professor of history, keynotes the series with the presentation “150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation” 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 5, in the Wicomico Room of the Guerrieri University Center. An appointed member of the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture and the Governor’s Commission to Study the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland, Small is well known for her studies and presentations of African-American history on the Delmarva Peninsula and for her expertise in African-American women’s history. She also is a recipient of the Harriet Ross Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award.

SU’s annual African-American History Month Dinner, featuring the Bernard Sweetney Jazz Quartet, follows from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, February 8, in the Commons. Cost is $11.09, $6.73 for children 5 and under. Sweetney, a premier jazz drummer since the 1960s, has performed with Roberta Flack, Shirley Horn and others. The dinner is sponsored by University Dining Services and the Office of Cultural Affairs. The next week, the SU Gospel Choir performs 7 p.m. Saturday, February 16, in Holloway Hall Auditorium.

As an outreach worker for migrant farmworkers in Salisbury in the mid-1980s, Phil Decker amassed a large collection of documentary photos and field notes. His collection provides SU’s Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture with a significant historical perspective on the origins of the Eastern Shore’s Haitian community, initially comprised primarily of those fleeing political and economic upheaval in Haiti in the 1970s and ’80s.

Decker presents the lecture “Documenting a Haitian Migrant Community” 7 p.m. Monday, February 18, in the Nabb Research Center Gallery. Fritz Jeudy, a caseworker with Telemon Corp., joins him, sharing insights about the Delmarva Peninsula’s current Haitian community. An exhibit of Decker's work, spotlighting farm crews in Florida and on the Eastern Shore, on the road, in the field, in labor camps and in town, is on display at the gallery February 4-May 10. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

A screening of the film Brother Outsider is 7 p.m. Thursday, February 21, in the Wicomico Room. The winner of eight “Best Documentary” awards, it tells the story of Bayard Rustin, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, mentor to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and architect of the 1963 March on Washington. Rustin was one of the few who dared to live as an openly gay man in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. A Sundance Film Festival selection, Brother Outsider is followed by a panel discussion with Vaughn White, director of multicultural student services, and Drs. Dave Johnson, co-editor of the journal Literature/Film Quarterly; James King of the English Department; James Burton of the Communication Arts Department; and Small.

A reading by poet Patricia Smith concludes the series at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 27, in the Worcester Room of the Commons. The award-winning author explored the impact of Hurricane Katrina in her 2008 work Blood Dazzler. Her most recent collection, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, was a National Book Award finalist. Her visit is sponsored by the English Department and SU’s Writers-on-the-Shore series.

Sponsored by the Multicultural Student Services Office and African-American History Month Committee, admission to all events is free unless otherwise noted, and the public is invited. For more information call 410-548-4503 or visit the SU Web site at