November 4, 2011

Unity Month features new collaborations, old favorites

A graffiti wall at Wonderful Wednesdays is one of the self-expression activities of Unity Month.

Unity Month 2011, an annual celebration of diversity at Emory, is forging new partnerships across campus this year.  

Throughout November, the University will feature diversity roundtables discussions, theater productions, film screenings, a fashion show with a twist, and a special lecture by director and producer Spike Lee.

The Unity Month tradition, which began in 1991, promotes cultural appreciation through dialogue and social activities. Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Programs & Services' (OMPS), the event illustrates its mission of building an inclusive and equitable community.

Organizers decided to jumpstart the Unity Month event schedule earlier in November this year to avoid the Thanksgiving rush and to limit programming before final exams, says OMPS associate director James Francois.

"We wanted to make sure we kept the energy level up and that the programs were well-attended," says Francois, who is anticipating at least 1,000 participants over the course of the month.

Setting the tone was the Unity kickoff event on Nov. 4, showcasing the diversity of students on Emory's campus.

Nov. 1 was a full day of Google-related activities, including a resume workshop and Q&A with a representative from the search engine giant. Google awarded OMPS a $20,000 diversity grant, which will be used to support the Crossroads community-building retreats for students.

Coinciding with International Education Week, Unity Month will feature two programs in cooperation with the Center for International Programs Abroad. On Nov. 9, the offices will jointly sponsor a roundtable discussion highlighting different customs around the globe. Students who have not traveled abroad will be able to try their luck during an international trivia night on Nov. 15.

In a nod to Taste of Atlanta, an International Food Festival on Nov. 6 will give participants a chance to sample nearly a dozen unique cultural dishes.

OMPS partnered with Emory Healthcare and the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs to offer a Nov. 9 Lunch and Learn workshop on "Diversity at Emory: How Do We Get to Unity?"

"We have a diverse group of students with many different needs on campus," notes Francois.

Faculty and staff invited

Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend multiple events to honor Emory's mission of diversity and collaboration, while exploring issues of social identity and marginalization.

"When faculty and staff get involved, it sends a message to the entire university that they are interested in promoting multiculturalism," says OMPS Assistant Director Aysha Daniels.

Opportunities to get involved include giving back through volunteering at Emory Cares International Service Day on Nov. 12.

Also on Nov. 12, a "trashion show" will feature models wearing fashion made from trash bags, supporting clothing donations for a women and children's center.

A Unity Month highlight is the 12th annual "State of Race" lecture showcasing the Emmy award-winning Spike Lee on Nov. 16. The Atlanta-born Lee has produced more than 35 films, including the provocative "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X."

Lee's keynote, co-sponsored by the College Council, OMPS and the Center for Ethics, will address conceptions of race in America. Past State of Race speakers have included CNN reporter and anchor Soledad O'Brien and Princeton University professor Cornel West.

Unity Month events are planned by a diverse 20-member student committee, working across the University. The group adheres to five core themes: global citizenship, social justice, sustainability, volunteerism and leadership.

"Students decided to add a sixth theme this year, which is 'fun!'" says Francois.

Cultural Beats, a much-anticipated annual concert starring cultural groups on campus, will be moved to next spring just in time for Essence at Emory, a multicultural visitation weekend for admitted students.

The Unity Month festivities conclude on Nov. 29 with Provost Earl Lewis' annual Dialogue on Race, where he will explore issues of race and community on campus.

See the Unity Month calendar for a complete schedule of events.

File Options

  • Print Icon Print