February is Black History Month, and Mary Baldwin University will celebrate the annual observance with a slate of activities beginning in January. The public is invited to participate.
On Jan. 16, Mary Baldwin will host its first Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest. The contest is open to area sixth-, seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders who want to showcase their forensic skills. Each contestant will present a four- to six-minute oration from one of King’s sermons or speeches. Mary Baldwin students will serve as sponsors and forensic coaches to the contestants. The contest will be held at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church at 936 Sudbury.
The winner will present his or her winning oration at the annual King Vesper Service, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19. The Vesper will follow the Annual Candlelight March for Peace and Justice, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. For further information about the contest, call Andrea Cornett-Scott at (540) 887-7131, or Shanta Poe at (540) 887-4367.
Jan. 19 has also been set aside by Mary Baldwin as a Day of Reflection, with activities on tap designed to promote reflection on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. On this day, a special reading room will be provided in Mary Baldwin’s Hunt Lounge from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. for those who would like to reflect on the life and dream of king. Reading materials, recordings and video footage will be available. Children ages 5-7 are encouraged to participate in age-specific activities beginning at 1 p.m.
Minority Women in Unity at Mary Baldwin will sponsor Hey, Girlfriend Day on Jan. 28. This celebration will explore the definition of girlfriend from the perspective of students of color, and will celebrate sisterhood and friendships on the Mary Baldwin campus. For more information, call Anjanette Saunders at (540) 887-4334.
On Jan. 30, the Office of African-American Affairs at Mary Baldwin will sponsor a “Sister-to-Sister Sleepover” at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church. The theme for this first get-together is “Let’s Get Personal,” and participants can expect to engage in what a spokesman at Mary Baldwin said will be “a night of serious yet fun sisterly introspection in order that sisterhood can become more than a word.” Participants must RSVP to Andrea Cornett-Scott by Jan. 21, and all participants are asked to gather at the church by 5:30 p.m.
In February, Mary Baldwin will celebrate Black History Month with a Black Student Alliance tea at 4 p.m. in Hunt Lounge; Culture Fest on Feb. 5; a showing of the film “Eve’s Bayou” on Feb. 6 from 7-9 p.m., and on Feb. 8 from 2-4 p.m., both in Francis Auditorium; and “An Evening of Real Soul Food” on Feb. 8, featuring the music of Hue and poetic performances by Kwame Alexander, Toni Asante Lightfoot and Jitson Davidson. Starting time is 7 p.m. in Francis Auditorium.
On Feb. 9 at 10:30 a.m., Kwame Alexander and Jitson Davison will conduct a writer’s workshop in the African-American literature class of Robert Grotjohn. For further information, call Grotjohn at (540) 887-7054.
This year, Mary Baldwin’s annual Soul Food Banquet will focus on the theme “Stone Soul Picnic,” and will feature the sounds of Wallace Red and The Red Dots, and a fashion show of hot summer fashions during dinner. The banquet will feature hot and spicy fried chicken, barbecued ribs, mixed beans, rice yeast rolls, cornbread desserts, old-fashioned bread pudding, bourbon sauce, sweet potato pie and coconut chess pie. The event will begin at 6 p.m. in Hunt Lounge. Tickets, which are $12 for adults and $10 for children under 12, may be purchased in advance by contacting Marsha Mays at (540) 887-7043.
On Feb. 17 at 8 p.m., guitarist and folk vocalist Deidre McCalla will perform in the Ham and Jam Pub. McCalla, who has three critically acclaimed albums on Olivia Records, has performed in some of the country’s best concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Center for the Performing Arts in Portland, Center Stage in Atlanta and The Sheldon in St. Louis. There is no admission fee, and the public is invited to attend.
The Harlem Renaissance Ball will be held Feb. 21 in the Student Activity Center at Mary Baldwin. Dance music from the Harlem Renaissance Era will feature the Gunnar Mossbald Big Band, spotlighting the talents of Stephanie Nakasian. Formal dress reflecting the era is suggested, and a cash bar and refreshments will be available. Prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed couple. The event sis sponsored by the Mary Baldwin Black History Month Committee, the Baldwin Program Board and Mary Baldwin Black Student Alliance.
The Harlem Renaissance Ball will begin at 10 p.m. and end at 1 a.m. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the following rates: Mary Baldwin community, $8 single and $12 couple. Without an Mary Baldwin identification card, the cost is $10 per person.
Mary Baldwin will wrap up its Black History Month celebration on Feb. 28 with Gospel Extravaganza, sponsored by the Mary Baldwin Black History Month Committee and the Mary Baldwin Anointed Voices of Praise. The event, which will highlight area university gospel choirs, will be held at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.