University to Host Public Events for Black History Month

Feb 7, 2017

Area residents can attend several Black History Month events at The University of Scranton in February. The events, offered free of charge, include a discussion, a Mass and a slam poetry performance.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, the University will host a presentation and discussion on the “Ins and Outs to the #BLM Movement” with G. Oliver Burns at 6:30 p.m. in the fourth floor McDonnell Room of the DeNaples Center on campus. A Vietnam War veteran and former semi-pro football player, Burns served as spokesperson for the former African American Arts Alliance, and as a steward, trustee, choir director and president of the Men of Bethel. He now serves as one of the licentiate ministers at Bethel A.M.E Church in Scranton.

A Mass with Mario Powell, S.J., which will include Gospel music performed by a member of Shiloh Baptist Church, will take place Sunday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Madonna Della Strada Chapel on Monroe Avenue. Father Powell serves as director of REACH (Recruiting Excellence in Academics for Catholic High Schools) at Regis High School, a tuition-free Jesuit college preparatory school in New York City. REACH, which mostly serves students from immigrant families, is a three-year educational and leadership program that prepares middle school students in the New York City area to earn scholarships to Regis or other academically rigorous high schools. The University of Scranton hosts students participating in the REACH program on campus each summer. Father Powell earned his bachelor’s degree, a master’s in Divinity and a license in Sacred Theology from Boston College. He also earned a master’s degree in American studies from St. Louis University. He was ordained a priest in 2014.

Award-winning spoken word poet Perry “Vision” DiVirgilio Vision will perform at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the Pearn Auditorium of Brennan Hall. Vision received the Alternative Soul award for best Spoken Word Performer. His poetry and poetry workshops were featured on CNN's documentary “Black in America 5,” and he was a featured poet on TVOne’s “Verses and Flow” season three. He is a founding member of Philadelphia’s spoken word collective Spoken Soul 215 and the artistic director for Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, where he teaches poetry as an avenue for self expression, self-esteem, public speaking and peer mentoring. He also coaches the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Team.

The public events, organized by the University’s Multicultural Center, are in addition to several campus events for University students, faculty and staff.

For more information about these events, contact the University’s Multicultural Center at 570-941-5904 or by email at


At left: Mario Powell, S.J.

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