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Environmental Advocate and Civil Rights Activist Van Jones to Give Keynote Address for Black History Month

van-jonesVan Jones

Van Jones, a globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and former White House green jobs adviser, will give the keynote address for Black History Month at Old Dominion University.

Jones, one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" of 2009 and author of two best-selling books about the green economy, will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the North Cafeteria of Webb Center.

The talk, sponsored by ODU's Office of Intercultural Relations (OIR), is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a book signing by Jones, a constant innovator in the quest to create a sustainable, environmentally beneficial economy.

A diverse roster of events is planned on the ODU campus to celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February. The national theme of Black History Month is "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington."

On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863) and the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr.-led March on Washington (Aug. 27, 1963), Jones' visit to ODU emphasizes how America rebuilds the dream, said Alicia Phillips, OIR's associate director for intercultural initiatives.

"A social entrepreneur focused on environmental justice and civil rights, Jones has already made a tremendous impact on American culture," Phillips said. "He is the co-founder of four nonprofit justice organizations - Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, Green for All and Rebuild the Dream. He is a model of what it is to lead from the heart. A prominent change agent of this generation, Jones inspires us to take a solutions-focused approach to addressing the social problems. The quest for creative and sustainable solutions is one that we must all embark on."

The Old Dominion University Libraries are celebrating Black History Month with an exhibit in the Learning Commons at Perry Library. The exhibit celebrates the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which set the United States on the path of ending slavery. "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality" can be viewed throughout the month of February.

ODU's celebration of Black History Month also includes the following events and activities:

  • On Sunday, Feb. 3, the ODU Gospel Talent Competition, "Sunday's Best," will be held in the North Cafeteria of Webb Center. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the competition begins at 5:30.

The fifth annual competition features dynamic soloists, group performances, instrumentalists and dancers competing for a grand prize. Tickets are $1 and can be purchased at the Information Desk in Webb Center. The event is sponsored by Sword of the Spirit Christian Student Ministries.

  • ODU's Caribbean Student Association will host three events the week of Feb. 4-9. On Tuesday, Feb. 5, a Dance Hall Queen and King competition will take place from 8:30-10 p.m. in the North Cafeteria of Webb Center. The cafeteria will also be the venue for Caribbean Night on Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 6-10 p.m. On Friday, Feb. 8, Capture the Caribbean: Night Time Activity Hour will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Webb Center's House of Blue. And on Saturday, Feb. 9, Bacchanal - Dance Party starts at 8 p.m. in the North Cafeteria.
  • On Monday, Feb. 11, Black History Jeopardy will test participants' knowledge of Black History Month facts, beginning at 7 p.m. in the James/Lynnhaven River Room of Webb Center, sponsored by the campus group Minds About Progress.
  • On Tuesday, Feb. 12, Global Café: Ethiopia will take place in the Intercultural Center, 2114 Webb Center, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. The event is sponsored by OIR. Also that day, a High School Talent Hunt, sponsored by Omega Psi Phi, will be held from 6-9 p.m. in Chandler Recital Hall of the Diehn Center for the Performing Arts.
  • On Friday, Feb. 15, the ODU Student Image Awards program is slated for 7 p.m. at the University Theatre. This event will honor minority students, student-athletes, faculty, staff and administrators for their excellence. All proceeds will go to the United Negro College Fund and NAACP scholarships. The event is sponsored by the ODU chapter of the NAACP.
  • The week of Feb. 18-22, a number of events sponsored by ODU's National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) will focus on service opportunities available through the university's fraternities and sororities.

On Monday, Feb. 18, the seminar "How to Go Greek 101" will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the River Rooms of Webb Center, featuring a panel discussion with NPHC leadership. The NPHC will also host an activity hour in House of Blue from 12:30-1:30 on Tuesday, Feb. 9. On Wednesday, Feb. 20, will be "Unsung Heroes," an event to recognize members of the NPHC who have had a tremendous impact on black history, yet aren't highly recognized. It will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Hampton/Newport News Room of Webb Center. On Friday, Feb. 22, "Meet the Greeks," a brief step expo and history on the organizations that comprise NPHC, will be held at 7 p.m. in the North Cafeteria and Hampton/Newport News Room.

  • At 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, ODU's Office of Housing and Residence Life will sponsor "Tunnel of Oppression," an interactive event designed to reveal the various forms of oppression still prevalent in the United States and worldwide.
  • On Saturday, Feb. 23, the annual East Coast Gospel Festival will be held, beginning at 7 p.m., in the North Cafeteria of Webb Center, sponsored by Ebony Impact Gospel Choir.
  • ODU's Office of Counseling Services presents, as part of its monthly discussion series, "Why Should Black Women Unite?" from 3:30-5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, in the Intercultural Center of Webb Center.
  • Minds About Progress will host a Black Business Expo from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the North Mall of Webb Center, featuring African American businesses and entrepreneurs in the Hampton Roads area.