Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture

Black History Month 2019

The roots of Black History Month go back to 1926 when noted historian, Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves, launched the first observance of Negro History Week in February of that year. Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to documenting and preserving Black history and culture and is often called the “father of black history.” In 1915, he created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (, and founded the Journal of Negro History soon after. What began as Negro History Week in 1926 was first celebrated as Black History Month in 1970 at the urging of students at Kent State University.  

In recognition of this year’s Black History Month theme, Black Migrations, we offer a few resources for your intellectual journeys (See Syllabus).  Know that at the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture we are living Black history every day and seeking to discover our roots exploring the many different routes of the African diaspora.   

Black History Month 2019 Calendar of Events


Black History Month 2019 Syllabus


Students Demand Change: The Genesis of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture

Let no one suppose that evolution will ever exempt us from struggles. — William Ralph Inge

Date: February 13, 2019

Start Time: 6:30 pm

[Following Exhibit Opening for "Black Students Matter: Taking Over Allen in '69" in Perkins Library sponsored by the Duke University Archives] 

End Time: 8:00 pm

Location:  Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, Flowers Building

[Guests can tour the center / Dialogue will be in The Underground]

Description:  This event will be a reflective conversation in recognition of the 50thAnniversary of the Allen Building Takeover.  Through dialogue, we will consider how student activism/students' demands called for and became the catalyst for institutional change.  Participants will reflect on the conditions that gave rise to the Allen Building Takeover on February 13, 1969, the 14 years that followed until the opening of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture in September 1983 and the additional student activism before and since that allows for 'The Mary Lou' to be a beacon of Black culture and keeper of Black history at Duke University.  We invite participants to discuss what happens after a dream comes true / demand is realized– what is there left to do.

 This event is free and open to the public.  Space may be limited.