The University of Houston-Victoria is preparing for Black History Month with free and public events that include a poster contest for area fifth-graders and a night of poetry.

The first event is the annual Black History Month Poster Contest. The contest is a partnership between UHV, Victoria College and the Victoria Black History Committee Inc., and is open to all fifth-graders in Victoria, including homeschooled, public school and private school students.

Students are asked to design posters around this year’s national theme, “African-Americans and the Vote.” The theme is determined by the national Association for the Study of African American Life and History, a group that helped found Black History Month.

“Each year, the children of our community have the opportunity to learn more about African-American history and tell a story through art,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “We are looking forward to these events that showcase the importance of Black History Month for our students and our community.”

The posters will be on display in the UHV University Center, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St., for the month of February. The top posters also will be on display during the Black History Month Poster Contest reception, during which prizes will be announced.

The reception is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the UHV University North Multi-Purpose Room, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The first-, second- and third-place winners will receive scholarships to UHV and vouchers to VC summer camps. Honorable mention winners will receive gift bags from UHV and VC.

A People’s Choice Award will also be awarded during the poster contest. All UHV students, faculty and staff and community members can vote from Feb. 4-12 by filling out a voting slip at the kiosk on the first floor at UHV University Center. Those who attend the Black History Month Poster Contest reception will be invited to University Center to vote for the People’s Choice Award as well. The top winners will receive prize packs from the Victoria Black History Committee Inc.

UHV also will host a Poetry Slam from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Jaguar Hall Commons, 2705 Houston Highway, featuring award-winning poet Ebony Stewart.

Stewart is an international touring poet and performance artist whose work speaks to the black experience with emphasis on gender, sexuality, womanhood and race. She also is an activist, playwright and author. Her work has been featured in For Harriet, Teen Vogue and the Texas Observer.

“This is a great opportunity for people to learn more about spoken word and slam poetry,” said Freddie Cantu, a UHV Student Life coordinator. “Ebony is a great choice to be featured at this event. She is a decorated poet, and I think she has a lot to offer in speaking to our students.”

The event also will feature UHV students performing original poems. The show is free and open to the public.

UHV students also will attend the Victoria Black History Month parade, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Patti Welder Middle School. In addition, the UHV Jag Steppers will perform Thursday at the Black History Month Celebration, which begins at 1 p.m. at 1110 Sam Houston Drive, Suite 100.

For more information about the poster contest, contact Nancy Gresham at 361-570-4351 or greshamn@uhv.edu. To learn more about the Poetry Slam, contact Cantu at 361-485-4474 or cantufe@uhv.edu.

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