University Libraries of Virginia Tech will celebrate Black History Month by presenting interactive programs, documentary movies, and discussions of the culture in music and books. 

All of  these events are open to the public and refreshments will be served.

The Student Hip-Hop Organization and Joycelyn Wilson, executive director of the Hip-Hop 2020 Curriculum project and a scholar of the genre, kickoff the program as they discuss how culture has shaped the movement, it’s rich and vibrant history, and share music and personal stories of the roles that hip-hop has played in their lives. “Hip-Hop in the Café” will be today, from 7. to 8:30 p.m. in the Newman Library 1st floor café. 

Documentary Days will be the showing of four documentaries with themes pertaining to black life and history. Each one will be show in the Newman Library second floor classroom beginning at 7 p.m.

  • Monday, Feb. 11: “Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy,” traces the history of black comedic performers from the early 1900s to the present and examines the nature of their humor its social and political context. Directed by Robert Townsend, the film was an official selection of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It includes interviews with many famous black comedians, including Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, and Whoopi Goldberg.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 12: “Rize,” directed by David Chapelle explores and compares two dance movements that originated in Los Angeles in the 1990s – clowning and krumping – and traditional African dance.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 13: “Rising from the Rails: the Story of the Pullman Porter” tells the story of African American men who served as caretakers to wealthy white passengers on luxury trains that traversed the nation in the golden age of rail travel. Seeking better wages and hours, the Pullman Porters formed the first African American labor union in America. Based on the best-selling book by Larry Tye.
  • Thursday, Feb. 14:”Baadasssss Cinema: A Bold Look at 70s Blaxploitation” looks at how this movie mode began. The documentary is fast, funky, and fun as these movies were. Interviews include Quentin Tarantino, Pam Grier, and Samuel L. Jackson among many others.

VT Voices will be a chance for members of the Virginia Tech community to share their research and interests in an informal setting. These will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Newman Library second floor commons area.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 20: Kira Dietz, library acquisitions and processing archivist in Special Collections, talks about how African-American cooking became an integral part of what we now think of as American cuisine.
    Brian Katen, head of the Landscape Architecture Program, will share fascinating images and findings from his work on parallel recreational worlds in segregated Virginia.
  • Thursday, Feb. 21: Daniel Thorp, associate professor of history, will discuss his research into the history of African-Americans in Montgomery County, Va.

An all-day readathon is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26, beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until the reading of Colson Whitehead’s “The Intuitionist” is complete. Everyone is encouraged to participate by being a reader and/or a listener to the funny, noir-inflected novel about Lila Mae Watson, the city’s first black female elevator inspector. A snapped cable, a free falling elevator and a search for the theoretical “black box” are part of this terrific story. Come when you can, stay as long as you like. There’s no microphone, no podium, just a chance to share a good book in the second floor common area of Newman Library.


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