North Texas Daily

UNT celebrates Black History Month with week of events

UNT celebrates Black History Month with week of events

UNT celebrates Black History Month with week of events
February 10
00:21 2015

Iyana Edouard / Staff Writer

On Monday, UNT’s department of history and political science hosted a Black History Month Lecture with speaker Dr. Michael Leo Owens.

Owens’ lecture, titled “The Civic Consequences of ‘The New Jim Crow’ for Black America,” primarily focused on the causes and effects of mass imprisonment of black citizens. 

“What defines black imprisonment is the sheer number of blacks on parole and probation,” he said. “Imprisonment of black citizens undermines black progress.”

At the beginning of the lecture he encouraged the audience to start saying “Happy Black History Month!” through the month of February, and to remember that it’s a month for everyone to celebrate, not just blacks.

He continued his lecture and spoke about statistical data of black economics, education, poverty, employment, death, crime and prison rates. He also made it clear that it is a difficult holiday to celebrate. Owens agreed with the thoughts of Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow” that racial segregation laws never truly died. 

“I definitely think Jim Crow still exists, like the unproportional amount of Latinos and blacks in prison,” said social work major Daisy Fraire, who is also familiar with the book.

Owens said he understood some of his audience may accuse him of pulling the race card, but he explained what the actual origins of the race card were. He also supported his points by describing the historical parallels between old Jim Crow and new Jim Crow, as well as the similarities of black men in jail versus black slaves.

“Black faces can trigger thoughts of crime, crime can trigger thoughts of blacks,” he said. “Imprisonment produces a variety of negative and civil effects.”

Owens is a scholar of urban and metropolitan politics. He received his Ph.D. from the University of New York, and is currently a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Owens is also the author of “God and Government in the Ghetto: The Politics of Church-State Collaboration in Black America.” His upcoming book, “Prisoners of Democracy” is a study of the politics, policies and attitudes that diminish the citizenship of felons in the United States. He drew the points of his lecture from his writings.

Radio, television, and film major Chris Plummer said he came in expecting to learn more about the new Jim Crow laws, and said Owens provided all his knowledge about such a controversial but intriguing topic.

“Dr. Owens takes his duties as a public intellectual very seriously,” UNT history professor Todd Moye said.

UNT will continue to honor Black History Month with UNT’s NAACP chapter hosting a Black History Week, which started Feb. 8 and ends Feb. 14.

Featured Image: Michael Leo Ownes, Ph. D. from Emery University delivers a speech in GAB 105 last night for a Black History Month event. The event was made possible by the departments of history and political science. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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