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Slave reparations scholar begins Black History Month events

An historian, astronaut-physician and panel of faculty members will appear on campus during February’s Black History Month.

The month concludes with the 11th Equity & Diversity Conference featuring CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien and actor Hill Harper. The conference is Feb. 25-26.

Events include:

John David Smith, UNC-CharlotteFeb. 7 – Lecture by John David Smith, left, the Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Smith’s free lecture, The Language of Reparations and the Meaning of Emancipation, 1865-1917, is at 6 p.m. in the Eagle Student Services Center, Room 255.  

He will provide a historical perspective about slave reparations, a debate that raged from the moment of emancipation until as recently as 2008 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shortly before the Civil War ended in 1865, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman announced a temporary plan that allowed about 40,000 freed slaves to settle in Georgia and South Carolina. However, President Andrew Johnson reversed the order, returning the land to previous owners. A Congressional bill for the redistribution of land to freed slaves failed in 1867, and land distribution was never resolved.

Smith is author of An Old Creed for the New South: Proslavery Ideology and Historiography, 1865-1918, and Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and ‘The American Negro’.

Smith is a contributing editor to the Journal of American History and is on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals. He has published more than 150 scholarly articles in journals such as Civil War History, Journal of Folklore Research, Journal of Negro History and South Atlantic Quarterly.

He has taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte since 2004, and previously was at North Carolina State University. He also has been Fulbright Senior Professor of American Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich.

Feb. 23 Black in America panel discussion

The Multicultural Center hosts a panel discussion, Black in America, featuring faculty and speakers. The free discussion, inspired by the CNN series Black in America, is at 7 p.m. in the University Union, Room 413.

 Feb. 25 - Lecture, Bernard Harris, M.D., first African American to walk in space

Bernard Harris, MD, first African American to walk in spaceBernard Harris, M.D., left, physician, venture capitalist and former astronaut, will speak at 11 a.m. in Curry Hall, Room 204, in the College of Business Distinguished Speaker Series. Series speakers provide students and faculty with observations about the business world, management and leadership.

Harris is chief executive officer and managing partner of Vesalius Ventures, Inc., a venture capital firm that invests in healthcare technologies and companies.

Harris served as chief scientist of SPACEHAB, Inc. space commercialization company where he was involved in business development and marketing of the company’s space-based products and services.    

Harris traveled more than 7.2 million miles in space during his 18 years as an astronaut and is the first African American to walk in space. Harris also participated in the first telemedicine conference from space with the Mayo Clinic. He has received the NASA Space Flight Medal and NASA Award of Merit.

He holds faculty appointments at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Baylor College of Medicine.

Harris earned a bachelor of science from the University of Houston, a master of medical science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, an MBA from the University of Houston and a doctorate of medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine.  

Feb. 25-26 - 11th Equity & Diversity Conference, Celebrating the Big I.D.E.A.: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access, University Union, Silver Eagle Suite.

  • Participants should register by Feb. 24 to receive a reduced registration rate, but onsite registration will be available Feb. 25.
  • Find registration information.

The conference sessions explore mentoring, equal pay, black masculinity, communication skills for student leaders, the teaching of social justice and veterans’ transition to civilian student life.

O’Brien will give the first keynote address of the conference at 10 a.m. Feb. 25. Harper will close the conference at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 26.

Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, began in 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson, a dean at Howard University, launched a movement to study Negro history.

The month has grown into a national observance with events and activities sponsored by  and at schools, churches and civic groups throughout the country. President Gerald Ford issued a message of observance in 1976, the year of the U.S. Bicentennial, urging Americans to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The Denton County African American Museum tells the story of African American families who settled in an area known as Quakertown in 1875. The museum is at Mulberry and Carroll Boulevard, the Historical Park of Denton County, and is open from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Posted on: Sun 06 February 2011

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