Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access

NFL player Michael Sam’s keynote address headlines Clemson Black History Month


A man in a grey collared shirt smiles at the camera
Michael Sam

Former St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay man to play in the NFL, will cap Clemson University’s Black History Month when he gives the keynote address at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, in the Class of 1944 Visitors Center Auditorium.

Sam was a University of Missouri football star primed for an early-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but his talents on the field were nearly sidelined when he came out as gay during an ESPN interview. While his revelation sent shockwaves through the sports world and he became a late-round pick by the Rams, Sam emerged as a powerful and prominent icon for inclusion. Among his many career accolades, Sam was awarded ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs.

Sam’s speech will be the closing event for Black History Month. This year’s theme, inspired by the recent Netflix docuseries “When They See Us,” is “Now They See US: A New Era.”

“This month is educational, but also serves as a call to action,” said Jerad Green, associate director of multicultural programs in the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center. “We not only want to acknowledge the painful history and struggles of black people, but also recognize their successes and contributions.”

Green noted Feb. 1 marks the 60th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins, which ultimately started a wave of desegregation across the South and reignited the civil rights movement.

Founded as Negro History and Literature Week in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month began as a way to highlight the progress of African-Americans following the Civil War and reconstruction. Today, the month is a catalyst to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and struggles of African-Americans and members of the African Diaspora.

Full list of Black History Month events:

Black Clemson Kickback

Friday, Jan. 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Brackett 300D Conference Room.

To kick off Black History Month, join us for a light kickback with fun games, films and engaging discussions. A light lunch will be served, but guests are welcome to bring their own lunch as well. This event is open to Clemson faculty, staff and students.

Call My Name Exhibition

Thursday, Feb. 6, at noon on the third floor of the Cooper Library.

Join us for the exhibit’s opening reception hosted by Rhondda Thomas. This exhibition will explore African-Americans’ contributions to higher education institutions and musical entertainment in the greater Clemson area from the founding of Clemson University in 1889 to the eve of desegregation in 1963.

Sound Off Party

Saturday Feb. 8, from 10 p.m. to midnight in the Barnes Center.

This is a night of silent-disco style dancing featuring Hip-Hop, Rap and R&B stations. Come enjoy food, dance, Black History Month trivia and a bracket-style competition. The Council of Diversity Affairs and U-Nites are event co-sponsors.

Call My Name Heritage Tour

Tuesday, Feb. 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Hendrix Student Center lobby.

The Call My Name tour introduces participants to the rich history of African-Americans in Clemson University history through visits to sites on campus that enrich the telling of their stories. RSVP required at Priority registration will be given to Clemson faculty, staff and students.

Co-coordinated by Rhondda Thomas.

Ancestry at the Library

Thursday, Feb. 13, from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Brown Room, Cooper Library.

Drop by the Cooper Library to learn more about your ancestry. There will be research presentations on ancestry by Rhondda Thomas and Susanna Ashton at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring your own laptop, but it is not required. Co-coordinated by the Clemson Libraries.

Soul Food Sunday

Sunday, Feb. 16, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Reeves Recruitment Space, West End Zone, Memorial Stadium.

This is a cookout-style gathering for students. Co-coordinated by Clemson Student Athlete Development.

CAFLS Black History Experience

Tuesday, Feb. 18 through  Thursday, Feb. 20

Join us to learn and experience how African-Americans have shaped the world of agriculture and will continue to shape it in the future. From industry leaders to interactive events guests will be introduced to innovations through celebrations.

Red, Black, and Blue

Thursday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m. in Daniel Hall Room 100.

A dialogue focused on the next election featuring African-Americans with liberal, moderate and conservative beliefs.

Legacies of Protest: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter

Wednesday, Feb. 26, in the Breezeway on the fourth floor of Cooper Library

This all-day exhibition will draw elements from both the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements to honor lives lost due to racial violence. Co-coordinated by Elizabeth Van Swol and Allison Harris.

Game Night

Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Union Underground Recreation Center.

Come out for this fun night of music, food and a video game competition. Co-coordinated by Brother 2 Brother.

Black History Month Keynote: Michael Sam

Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. in Class of 1944 Visitors Center Auditorium.

Join us as we host our Black History Month keynote speaker Michael Sam, a former defensive end player for the St. Louis Rams and the first openly gay man to play in the NFL. This event is free and open to the public.


Coordinated by the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center. For more events and requests for accommodations, visit or contact Jerad Green at 864-656-7625/

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