Spike Lee to speak at VCU

Samantha Foster
Spectrum Editor

Spike Lee will be coming to VCU for Black History Month to discuss his rise to fame in the film industry.

Lee will be speaking to a sold-out audience of 400 VCU students, faculty and staff on Feb. 21 at the Student Commons. The free tickets were gone within a few days after they were made available on Feb. 4 through Breakpoint in the Commons.

Lee’s appearance at VCU is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Black Caucus at VCU, the Department of Media, Art and Text, the College of Humanities and Sciences and the VCU division for Health Sciences Diversity.

Faith Wilkerson, the interim director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, said she believes that the students and faculty will be interested to hear Lee’s speech because of his previous works.

“He’s done some great classic films that I think not only some (of) the faculty and staff can appreciate but also some of the students in terms of the documentaries,” Wilkerson said.

Spike Lee is well-known as an American film director, but has also worked as a producer, writer and actor. Lee has worked as a producer with over 35 movies, including the documentary “Malcolm X.”

Lee won an Emmy Award and two Academy Award nominations for his film “Do the Right Thing” and his documentary “4 Little Girls.”

Wilkerson also said that the majors and interests of students were considered when choosing a speaker for Black History Month.

“We thought about our film students … and then just our general students who grew up watching his movies,” Wilkerson said.  “(We wanted) someone that the students would want to hear and definitely someone of notoriety. We want to be sure that they’re excited.”

When choosing speakers, Wilkerson said that the Black Caucus tries to find a person who will be successful in “reaching out to the younger, more urban environment and being able to talk to the students about things that really impact them.”

Past speakers for Black History Month at VCU have included author and professor at Georgetown University, Michael Eric Dyson, and BET personality Jeff Johnson.

“Every year (Office of Multicultural Student Affairs) tries to pick a theme for Black History Month and this year our theme was to highlight black (people) in film,” Wilkerson said. “We thought about Spike Lee and everyone kind of got excited, so we talked it over with our co-sponsor, the Black Caucus.”

For his speech at VCU, Lee has been given free rein to discuss what he’d like, but it will most likely be a conversation about how he has gotten to where he is now and about the films and documentaries he has produced and directed, Wilkerson said.  Wilkerson also said that Lee will also be discussing “all the hardships in terms of being an African American film director and even an actor.”

In its entirety, Lee’s appearance at VCU cost $38,000, a cost that was covered by the Student Government Association.

The Black Caucus solicited funding from the Monroe Park SGA, whose appropriations committee has special funding for student organizations that wish to plan an activity outside of their normal activities and programs.

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