The University of Missouri-Rolla will sponsor or co-sponsor several local events in the coming months to celebrate diversity and promote cultural awareness. All events are open to the public.
A Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 19, at the Phelps County Courthouse in Rolla, where individuals will present Dr. King’s "I Have a Dream" speech. Following the speech, a motorcade will travel to the Christ Episcopal Church, 10th and Main streets in Rolla, where a service will be held at 12:30 p.m. The featured speaker will be Elder Mary Ann Pulley, pastor of the Agape’ Full Gospel Christian Church and chair of UMR’s African-American Cultural Recognition Committee (AACRC).
The Rolla area branch of the NAACP will hold its 15th annual awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, in Centennial Hall in the University Center-East on the UMR campus. Dr. Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri System, will serve as the speaker, and entertainment will be provided by Tarik and Micale Clark of Houston, Texas. The NAACP will award "Yes I Can" scholarships to UMR African-American students at the event, and a member of the community will be presented with a "Yes I Can" award in recognition of demonstrated courage in the face of adversity. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Rolla branch of the NAACP at (573) 368-4616 or Stacey Smith, secretary, at (573) 647-9027. Ticket prices, which include food and entertainment, are $30 for adults and $20 for full-time students. A limited number of discounted tickets are available for UMR students from the Minority Engineering and Science Program office at (573) 341-4212.
The UMR Association of Black Students and the National Society of Black Engineers will co-sponsor Poetry Under the Stars at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, in the Southwestern Bell Cultural Center. The event is free.
Christ Episcopal Church in Rolla will host Absalom Jones Sunday services at 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Feb. 15. Absalom Jones was the first African-American Episcopal priest. The featured speaker will be William S. Jenks III, owner of Jenks/Long Insurance Co. and a Vietnam veteran.
The St. Louis Black Repertory Company’s award-winning Touring Company will bring two 50-minute performances to Centennial Hall in the University Center-East on the UMR campus starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26. The first play, "Telling, Singing, Beating the Drum," chronicles the legacy of African and African-American folktales as they are passed down through three generations. Music, song and dance help give these old tales new life. The show, developed by Linda Kennedy, is appropriate for children in grades K-8 as well as community audiences. "He Who Endures," a historical play, follows the life and work of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, including his intellectual battles with people who opposed his passive viewpoint and his call for slaves to "rise up" for their freedom. This play, by Bill Harris, is appropriate for children in grades 6-12 as well as for adults. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided.
The Association of Black Students at UMR will host a Dinner to Jazz concert and banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in Centennial Hall on campus. This event, held in conjunction with the AACRC, has been a tradition at UMR since 1965. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Musical entertainment will then be provided. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the event.
The UMR student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and AACRC will hold an annual oratorical contest in conjunction with Dinner to Jazz at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in Room 204 McNutt Hall on campus. This year’s theme is Brown v. Board of Education. A total of $250 in prizes will be given. The contest is open to high school students in Missouri and bordering states.
Student artwork celebrating African-American history and culture will be on display at UMR’s University Center-East during February and March and then displayed at the Southwestern Bell Cultural Center.
The unique cultures of Africa, including artifacts, artwork and sculptures, will be showcased during African Gala Night, set for 4-8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 17, in University Center-East on campus. The popular and fascinating fashion show will return with even more clothing from different countries. Live African musical bands will entertain the audience and leave the night for the audience to dance the night away. Tickets are $5 for ages 11 and older and free for children ages 10 and younger.
Several other events are also being planned in conjunction with African American Heritage Month. For more information, contact Pulley at (573) 647-8316 or firstname.lastname@example.org.