MTW 2008One of New Jersey’s oldest and most highly esteemed Black History Month events, the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, marked its 28th anniversary, Saturday, February 16, 2008 by examining Private Grief and Public Mourning in African American Life and History.

The one-day free public program acknowledged the deep sadness and enduring commemorative efforts associated with post-World War II African American history, especially as that history relates to the 1968 death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the loss of so many others imperiled during the years of the modern Civil Rights Movement. The fortieth anniversary of Dr. King’s death in 1968 affords historians an opportunity to shed light on how that singularly tragic event is connected to a larger narrative of the emotional grief and commemoration of the Movement and those who made a sacrifice in its behalf.

The keynote Marion Thompson Wright Lecture was given by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Professor Emerita of history at American University and a scholar and artist in African American cultural history and music. Afternoon speakers included Professor John Vlach, George Washington University, Washington, DC; Professor Kim Lacy Rogers, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA; and Dr. Juanita Moore, president and CEO, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, MI. Performances by violinist, Regina Carter and the Bradford Hayes Trio.