For the first time, the University of Houston-Victoria will host free, public virtual events to celebrate Black History Month in February. These will include a poster contest for fifth-graders, community book club meetings to discuss race and a webinar featuring a panel.

“Although we are unable to meet in person to celebrate Black History Month, we are excited to offer a panel to discuss an important topic in the Black community and the annual poster contest,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “I am looking forward to seeing what wonderful works of art our local students come up with, as well as hearing the insightful discussion during the panel and the CommUNITY Book Club meetings.”

The annual Black History Month Poster Contest is a partnership between UHV, Victoria College and the Victoria Black History Committee. It is open to Victoria fifth-graders, including those who are homeschooled or attend private or public schools. The students will be designing posters about individuals who fit this year’s theme of “Black Politicians: Then and Now.”

Posters will be submitted digitally this year. The first-, second- and third-place winners will receive scholarships to UHV and VC. Honorable mention winners will be given gift bags from UHV and VC. The deadline for students to submit their posters is Feb. 5.

Because UHV is in Phase 2 of its Phased Reopening Plan, the posters will not be available for public viewing in the UHV University Center, and a public awards reception will not take place. The winners will be announced in mid-February, and prizes will be delivered to the winning students.

“We are disappointed that we won’t be able to celebrate with the students during our usual reception,” said Nancy Gresham, UHV special events coordinator. “But we do want to show our appreciation to the fifth-grade students for their hard work.”

The CommUNITY Book Club will meet virtually through Microsoft Teams at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday in February. The book club is funded by the UHV Diversity and Race Task Force so that print, audio and e-books for featured works are available at the UHV Library. The book club meets quarterly and is part of a collaboration with United Way of the Crossroads, the Center for Peace, Be Well Victoria Coalition and Victoria College.

In honor of Black History Month, members are discussing “Between the World and Me,” a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, about a father telling his son his experiences growing up as an African American. The book is available in hard copy, electronic book, audiobook and electronic audiobook formats at the UHV Library for UHV and VC faculty, staff, students and community members. UHV and VC faculty, staff and students can access the electronic copies from anywhere. Community members are able to access the electronic formats while on campus or in the library.

The UHV Library is located in UHV University Commons, 3006 N. Ben Wilson St., and is open to the public. To obtain a free UHV Library card, contact the library at 361-570-4166. Books purchased from the Texian Bookstore, 201 S. Main St., for the book club are offered at a discount. Those who purchase books through Amazon Smile can set United Way of the Crossroads as their charity of choice to help the nonprofit receive donations from Amazon at no cost to the customer.

On Feb. 23, UHV will host the next webinar in the Brave Space Series, a series that promotes positive dialog and perspectives on different topics. The panel is titled “I’m Not My Hair” and will focus on the topic of hair discrimination and how it affects the African American community. The program begins at 4 p.m. and will be hosted on Microsoft Teams. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear discussions from people in the UHV and Victoria communities.

“Discrimination in the workplace and in schools because of hair is a civil rights issue,” said Freddie Cantu, assistant director of diversity and inclusion. “Hair is hair, and people shouldn’t be stigmatized for it. This is a great opportunity to become more educated and learn more about the issues that are affecting our communities.”

To attend the event, go to the UHV Diversity & Inclusion Facebook page and register through the event link that will be posted closer to Feb.23. To learn more, contact Cantu at cantfe@uhv.edu. For more information about the Black History Month Poster Contest, contact Gresham at greshamn@uhv.edu. To register for the CommUNITY Book Club, go to form.jotform.com/203626725757160. To learn more about the UHV Diversity and Race Task Force, go to uhv.edu/president/diversity.

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