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Speaker kicks off Black History Month at Marshall with dramatic performance

February 1, 2019

HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Carter G. Woodson Lyceum kicked off its celebration of Black History Month in the Memorial Student Center on Thursday evening with a dramatic performance from Carmen Mitzi Sinnott.

“Our program for this month and throughout the year at the Lyceum is celebrating Black History Month strictly as Woodson insisted we do,” Burnis Morris, Carter G. Woodson Professor and co-founder of the Lyceum, said. “He wanted the celebration to be educational and to emphasize what we’ve learned about black history in previous years. It should be an inclusion of the black story line with other story lines that make up history in chapters of respect for all races.”

Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History,” and his teachings encouraged African-Americans to learn more about their past. Sinnott, who served as keynote speaker and is a Diversity Committee member, performed scenes from her solo play “Snapshot” to tell her story of how she only found out how to truly live after discovering a piece of herself she never knew.

Sinnott’s father, a Vietnam War veteran, left Huntington in 1968 and never came back. She knew her father only through pictures, not the sound of his voice or the way he walked. His absence left a father-sized hole in Sinnott’s past.

“I was stuck,” she said after acting out a scene from her childhood. “I knew the only thing that I could do to free myself was to find my father, and so I took every dime I had and booked another flight to Hawaii.”

Sinnott said setting out to find her father in an effort to understand her past was important for her future. Once she reconnected with her father in Honolulu, she claimed that knowing one’s true history is how one’s real, future possibilities are determined.

“With these efforts, I released the ‘stuck.’ My dad, in that moment, helped create a new pathway in my brain that I can achieve anything,” Sinnott said.

The Lyceum, now entering its third year, continues to highlight key contributions made by African-Americans throughout history and the importance of recognizing Black History Month.

“I can tell you that Black History Month is a very important part of the year because we still have a lot to learn. The history of African-Americans was ignored, suppressed and distorted by the white majority of the country until the end of the civil rights movement,” Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert said. “Black history has continued to emerge since that time and has shown us the countless contributions of African-Americans to our country and to the world.”

The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum has a number of events planned throughout February to continue celebrating Black History Month, beginning with the Carter G. Woodson Annual Soul Food Feast at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, in the John Marshall Room of the Memorial Student Center.

All events are open to the public without charge, unless otherwise noted. For more information and a complete list of events, visit www.marshall.edu/woodsonlyceum.

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