Black History Month Lecture: Dr. Leslie Patrick on Feb. 21

John Lewis once said, “our struggle is a struggle to redeem the soul of America. It’s not a struggle that lasts for a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. It is the struggle of a lifetime, more than one lifetime.”

This is one of the quotes that will frame the lecture on “Black History: Needed Now More than Ever” hosted at 11 a.m. Feb. 21 in the Henry Student Center Ballroom.

The History Department and Multicultural Student Coalition scheduled Dr. Leslie Patrick, associate professor of history at Bucknell University to present this lecture.

“The successful campaign of Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States once again unleashed an intense racial animus toward people of African descent and other non-white people,” Patrick said.

“While studying and knowing history by no means explains the results that have occurred, it can be a useful guide through understanding the ignorance and malice that continues to be inflicted upon black and all people of color in the US. It is not that history repeats itself, it is that black history has always known why it must exist and be taught, especially in adverse times, of which it has known too many.”

Patrick is in her thirtieth and final year as associate professor in the department of history at Bucknell University in Lewisburg. She moved to Pennsylvania in 1986 from California, where she received a doctorate in the History of Consciousness program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Patrick is a past president of the Pennsylvania Historical Association and has been involved with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as a member of its Black History Advisory Committee and a scholar-in-residence.

Most recently, Patrick was a member of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Board. Her scholarly interests focus on the convergence between crime and punishment and early African-American history.

Associate Professor of History Dr. Diane Wenger shared her excitement for Patrick’s visit, saying that, as a historian herself, she is particularly interested in her message.

“I teach American history with an emphasis on groups (African-Americans, Native Americans, women, immigrants) who in the past were systematically denied rights. Until relatively recently, these people were not well-represented in our history books,” Wenger said. “In fact, history was taught from a white, male perspective and one which celebrated America as a place of freedom and liberty for all.

“Telling the whole story of our past–warts and all, as they say– is crucial. It is important that we as American citizens know our history in order to put current events into context; we need to be vigilant and knowledgeable so that past injustices are not minimized or apologized for, but recognized–and that they are not repeated.”

According to, Black History Month began as “Negro HistoryWeek,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976, and the month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

The event is free and open to the public and will include lunch.

Following the lecture, from 1 to 2:15 p.m., the campus community is invited to continue the conversation about black history with Patrick and members of Dr. Diane Wenger’s “Slavery and Abolition” class. The class will be held in room 201 of the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center.

“This lecture/discussion, “Black History Needed Now More Than Ever,” hopes to involve and inspire the rising generation of students to challenge and confront the injustices that African Americans have endured,” Patrick said, “Knowledge of the past, as evidenced in the quotes, is an essential foundation for understanding the present.”

Anyone seeking more information can contact Diane Wenger at [email protected].