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UMass Lowell Kicks Off Social Justice Series


Celebration Honors Black History Month, Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ A performance by a nationally known poet, a screening of a documentary, a visit to the Black History Trail and a leadership workshop are just some of the events scheduled for the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Social Justice Series, a month-long lineup of events celebrating Black History Month, the work and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and social justice achievements.

The theme for the series was inspired by the African philosophy of “Ubuntu,” which means “I am because we are.” All of the month’s activities were developed around this theme.

“This concept reminds us that we are all connected, that we cannot be ourselves without community,” said Jaime Nolan-Andrino, director of UMass Lowell’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, which is coordinating the series.

The series includes the following events that are open to the public:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 8, 7 to 9 p.m. ߝ “Bring Your ‘A’ Game,” a documentary directed by Mario Van Peebles that details strategies that have transformed the lives of successful black men. The film will be followed by a panel discussion.  Location:  Alumni Hall, UML North, 84 University Ave., Lowell.
  • Thursday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m. ߝ “Voices of Innocence,” a stage performance by John Thompson and Greg Bright, who were both exonerated after being incarcerated in the Louisiana prison system. The men will share their stories, recounting their experiences as innocent men wrongly imprisoned. The event will begin with a performance by the UMass Lowell Gospel Choir. Location: O’Leary Library, Room 222, UML South, 61 Wilder St., Lowell. 
  • Thursday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. ߝ Spoken-word performance by nationally acclaimed slam poet Beau Sia. Opening the performance will be special guests including the UMass Lowell/Middlesex Community College Slam Poetry Team. Location:  O’Leary Library, Room 222, UML South, 61 Wilder St., Lowell. 

Other events in the series include a volunteer fair that will feature a celebration of the life of King, a student trip to the Black Heritage Trail in Boston, a student leadership dinner and social justice workshop, an interactive game show called “So You Think You Know Black Americans in Entertainment?” and a panel discussion on modern-day slavery presented by the Association of Students of African Origins (ASAO), Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence and Success (MALES), and Sisters of Integrity Striving Towards Empowerment, Respects and Success (SISTERS).

“The series’ theme, ‘I am because we are’ is not just exclusive to this month. It truly is a means for infusing the work of the Office of Multicultural Affairs into the campus community,” said Nolan-Andrino. “Our work cannot be successful without partnerships, much like the planning that went into the month’s events. Interdependence and collaboration are what build an inclusive community.”

The university’s offices of Multicultural Affairs, Student Activities and Leadership and Residence Life are partners in the work of diversity and inclusion on campus. Each plays a significant role in the newly formed Student Engagement Committee, through which much of the planning for the month occurred.

“Creating a community inclusive of all members of the university is the foundation of all our work. That’s why Residence Life is so excited to have the opportunity be part of the Social Justice Series,” said James Kohl, UMass Lowell’s director of residence life.

“The programs planned for this month provide a gateway through which conversations are created that will shape our efforts to create an inclusive community,” said Brenda Evans, director of the Office of  Student Activities and Leadership. “Collaboration is such an important piece of creating a healthy community and is central to all of the work we do.”

“We look to develop the work we do through the larger vision of fostering inclusive community. That way, the work of diversity, inclusion and social justice are consistent threads woven into the entire fabric of our institution,” Nolan-Andrino said.

For more information on the event series, contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs, 978-934-4336.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UMass Lowell offers its 14,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

For more information, contact or 978-934-3224