Black History Month at MC

As a young girl, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a bus nine months before the infamous Rosa Parks had done so.

Yet her name is one many don’t know.

That’s something an Ohio University graduate student hopes to correct during an upcoming visit to Marietta, where she will present her play “Battle Cry,” based on Colvin’s story.

It’s one of two events Marietta College is opening to the public in honor of Black History Month.

“Marietta College’s role on campus and in the community is to offer and provide a diverse range of speakers and performances,” said Tom Perry, executive director of college relations at Marietta College “We feel that the two events that we do have open to the public add a great educational opportunity for the community.”

Up first is the original play by Bianca Sams, which will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“The amount of research that Sams had to do to uncover this story speaks volumes to the lack of attention placed upon the history of certain African Americans during the Civil Rights movement,” said Richard Danford, vice president for diversity and inclusion at Marietta College. “This is an important event for learning more about a forgotten figure crucial to the civil rights movement.”

According to her website, Sams was the first ever triple major (Africana Studies, acting and dramatic writing) to graduate from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

At NYU she studied at Strasberg Theater, and she spent six months in London studying Shakespearean verse at the prestigious Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts.

The play will be held in Alma McDonough Auditorium and there is no admission cost.

The second event that is open to the general public is the Founder’s Day keynote address, which will be given by Eugene Robinson.

Robinson is widely known as a successful newspaper columnist and won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign.

“I don’t think it’s everyday that people around here get the chance to meet a Pulitzer Prize winner,” Danford said. “He is someone that has regular contact with people that make some of the most important decisions in Washington.”

His speech will deal with issues addressed in his book “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America.”

“Robinson’s book discusses the concept that a larger majority of African Americans have moved into the middle class in the past generation or two,” Danford said. “He also addresses the misconception that the African American class is predominantly lower class.”

Perry said he believes having Robinson speak at this year’s event is a major benefit for the college and community.

“In the past we’ve had a variety of different speakers for Founder’s Day,” Perry said. “Robinson is easily one of the more recognizable and respected figures we’ve had speak for us and we are excited for the opportunity to have him.”

Along with Robinson’s speech and book signing, Marietta College will also hand out awards and honors to faculty members.

The event is free and will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Alma McDonough Auditorium at Marietta College.