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January 31, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Music, speeches, mime open SRU's Black History Month

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Multiple student organizations at Slippery Rock University will come together Feb. 4 for a 12:30 p.m. Black History Month Kick Off.

The Smith Student Center Ballroom opening ceremony will include speakers and a performance by the SRU Chosen Generation Gospel Choir, directed by Jacqueline Garland, an English major from White Oak.

The month also supports SRU's yearlong 125th anniversary. Founded as Slippery Rock State Normal School by the local residents who saw a need for creation of a higher education institution to teach young people to be teachers in western Pennsylvania schools, the institution has grown into a comprehensive university offering more than 60 majors.

Various speakers will address the theme for the Black History Month celebration: Remembering Our History - Building Our Future.

A timeline of historical events will be shown.

Curtis Hanner, a dance major from Pittsburgh, will perform original choreography, and Robert White, an Arsenal Junior High School, Pittsburgh, teacher and 1994 SRU elementary education graduate, will discuss his days as a student and where life has led him. Thirty-five of his students will attend.

Members of the SRU Jump Start program will offer a mime presentation, and Donald Robinson, an exercise science major from Pittsburgh and president of SRU's Black Action Society, will present an address titled "Building Our Future."

A tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, will conclude the program.

SRU's Office of Multicultural Development and the Green and White Society are organizing the event.

"The annual Black History Month celebration is significant because it's a time to pay tribute to those who fought for social justice and equality for African Americans. Our students are further and further removed from the struggle of so many. This month is an opportunity to educate our community of the history and culture of African diaspora," said Corinne Gibson, director of SRU's Office of Multicultural Development.

As part of the month's ongoing activities during February, the SRU Women's Center will feature six African American women per week throughout the month with a post under the "#Women Matter" hashtag connected to Twitter.

The month's organizers have teamed with the SRU history department's "Racial Justice Series" to bring Jack Cole, retired detective lieutenant with a 26-year career in the New Jersey State Police, to campus for two lectures Feb. 6. His "You be the Judge" lecture is at 12:30 p.m., in 105 Vincent Science Center, followed by "War on Drugs," at 6 p.m. in 320 Smith Student Center.

Cole spent 14 years in narcotics, mostly as an undercover officer. He investigated cases ranging from street drug users to international "billion-dollar" drug trafficking organizations.

He is a founding member, and served eight years as executive director, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international organization representing police, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens and supporters from 86 countries, who believe a system of legalized regulation of all drugs will remove the violence which is the result of drug prohibition. He now serves as LEAP's board chair and international speaker.

A number of other events, including food, history, music and fun are also planned.

The months culminating events are the traditional, semi-formal Ebony Ball at 6 p.m., Feb. 27, in the Smith Student Center Theater, which is sponsored by the Black Action Society, and the Feb. 28-March 2 Cultural Immersion Trip to New York City. The trip includes visits to the Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, African burial grounds and other sites involved in African-American culture.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.