Black History Month event celebrates legacy of Frederick Douglass
As Liberty University joins the nation in celebrating Black History Month, the Helms School of Government welcomed Jeremy Hunt from the Douglass Leadership Institute (DLI) on Friday for a lecture focused on preserving the legacy of the “father of the civil rights movement.” Hunt also spoke in classes and met with staff and students throughout the day.
Hunt, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army second lieutenant, leads youth and young adult outreach for the DLI, which was created in honor of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass to bridge the gap between African-American faith-based institutions, civil government, and the civic world. Hunt is a regular guest on Fox News, and his writings have appeared in The Washington Post, The Hill, and on the Fox News website.
Hunt encouraged students at Friday’s lecture by sharing more about Douglass, who was born into slavery in 1818 but found freedom and achieved success as an author, orator, newspaper editor, and U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. Wednesday was the bicentennial of Douglass’ birth.
Hunt described Douglass as a man of faith, patriotism, and dignity, who had a thirst for knowledge. Those traits, to the chagrin of slavery sympathizers, led him to eventually overcome his position in life, he said.
“Even despite all of the barriers to his own knowledge, he fought to learn more,” Hunt explained. “There is a distinct difference between people who have a thirst for learning and those who are just floating by.”
“The core of it all was his faith in God,” Hunt added, as he offered advice to students pursuing careers in government. “Looking at his life, we can see how faith and destiny and being a public servant go in tandem. There is no friction between what God has called you to do and your faith in Him.”
If there is friction, he explained, “reevaluate it … the faith should fuel your calling.”
Hunt took students’ questions afterward, addressing the topics of representation in political parties and the importance of community activism.
“I definitely appreciated a different viewpoint — hearing from somebody who is a conservative and also African-American was very important,” sophomore Lydia Elrod said. “As African-Americans, understanding the history (of people like Douglass) is what is going to create a stronger community here at Liberty.”
Sophomore Opal Lowther said she appreciated learning more about a historical figure through Hunt’s readings of Douglass’ writings.
“We often get caught up in what we want the world to be, and history displays what it is,” she said. “It wasn’t easy for those (civil rights) transitions. It was very difficult for those leaders. We ought to build on that.”
This month, departments across campus are observing Black History Month with a mixture of educational and fun events to challenge perspectives, tackle current issues surrounding race, and celebrate the important cultural impact of African-Americans. Many of the events were organized by Liberty’s Center for Multicultural Enrichment (Center4ME).
Earlier on Friday, the Center4ME hosted a praise and worship-focused Alternative Convocation led by LU Praise, the university’s premiere gospel choir. In the afternoon, the center presented the latest installment of its cooking show, “Culture in the Kitchen,” which is available on Facebook.
On Feb. 1, the center co-hosted a diversity symposium with the Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement. It also organized a student outing to see the premiere of the superhero movie “Black Panther.”
Last week, civil rights activist and minister John M. Perkins and pastor and former NFL player Derwin Gray presented talks on racial tension, unity, and identity as part of Current Conversations, a free, two-day series of talks for students. Gray also gave a Convocation message on racial unity in the church.
The Phi Alpha Theta history honors society kicked off Black History Month on Feb. 1, hosting a screening of “42,” a biopic about baseball great Jackie Robinson.
Upcoming Black History Month events include:
- Feb. 17: Cultural Excursion to the National Museum of African-American History & Culture
- Feb. 22: Deliberative Dialogue with the Urban Education Club
- Feb. 23: Soul-Night of the Arts, celebrating black culture through various artistic expressions
- Feb. 27: “For the Love of America,” highlighting African-Americans who have served in the military since the Revolutionary War. African-American veterans will share their experiences firsthand. The event is free and open to the public and presented by the Center4ME, Jerry Falwell Library, and Veterans Center.
>Visit the Center4ME’s event calendar for full details.