Sapphire, the author whose book inspired the hit film "Precious," will be the keynote speaker during the 2010 UAB Black History Month celebration Feb. 2-28 on the UAB campus.

The lecture, titled "When Push Comes to Precious," is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 in Volker Hall Lecture Room A, 1670 University Blvd. A book-signing event will follow. The event is free for UAB students, faculty and staff and $10.50 for the general public. Tickets are available at the UAB Ticket Office in the Hill University Center, 1400 University Blvd., or call 205-934-8001.

Sapphire's novel Push, later renamed Precious, tells the story of an overweight, African-American teenage mother who endures physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her parents. The book became a New York Times bestseller and was named by the Village Voice and Time Out New York as one of the Top 10 books of 1996.

Push was later turned into the screenplay "Precious," the hit film with a cast that includes the comedienne Mo'Nique and pop star Mariah Carey. Mo'Nique recently received the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her role. The film now has the buzz of a possible Oscar nomination.

Sapphire also is author of American Dreams, a collection of poetry that was cited by Publisher's Weekly as "one of the strongest debut collections of the 1990s." Her poems and other works have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review and Spin.

In addition to the lecture, UAB Black History Month events also will include a retrospective on African-American inventors, a performance by the South African Soweto Gospel Choir, films, musical performances and panel discussions on issues confronting African-Americans today. Some of the planned events are:

Tuesday, Feb. 2

Black History Month Opening Program, 7 p.m. in Bartow Arena, 617 13th St. South, featuring a performance by the Chicago Afrobeat Project (CAbP). Admission is free. CAbP is true to its original vision of breathing the intensity of Chicago's rich music scene into the infectious sounds of afrobeat. The band is known for its melodic and hard-hitting horn lines. The music also is packaged with original songwriting that explores the stylistic reaches of afrobeat.

Saturday, Feb. 6

The 20th Annual Camille Armstrong Step Show, 7 p.m. in Bartow Arena, 617 13th St. South. Stepping is a dance style in which performers stomp and clap and synchronize their moves, creating their own beat rather than relying on music. African-American fraternities and sororities traditionally have performed the dance in competitions. The event is held annually to raise money for the Camille Armstrong Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is awarded to African-American students of at least junior standing who plan to study law. Advanced tickets are $12 with a UAB Student ID; $15 for the general public. The day of the show tickets are $15 with UAB student ID; $20 for the general public. For tickets, go to, call 934-8001 or visit the Hill University Center Ticket Office, 1400 University Blvd. For more information, call 205-934-8000.

Monday, Feb. 8

The Odds and Ends of Black History: Black Inventions, 7 p.m. in the Marshall Conference Center, 802 11th St. South. Admission is free. This retrospective of African-American inventors is sponsored by the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.

Feb 10-14

UAB Theatre presents "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10-13; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14 in the Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $12 and $15; $6 for students; $10 for UAB employees and senior citizens. For tickets, call 205-975-2787. The play is part of the August Wilson series chronicling African-American life in each decade of the 20th century. Haunted by seven years on a chain gang, Herald Loomis appears in Pittsburgh to reunite with his family. Surrounded by the vibrant tenants of a black boarding house, he fights for his soul and his song in the dawning days of a century without slavery.

Feb 11-12

UAB presents the documentary "Good Hair," 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11 and Friday, Feb. 12 in the Hill University Center Great Hall, 1400 University Blvd. Admission is free. Straight, curly or frizzy, comedian Chris Rock's documentary film explores the African-American hair culture in a humorous and poignant attempt to uncover the origins of the term "good hair." The film received a special jury prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film screening is sponsored by the UAB Films and Novelties Committee.

Call the UAB Office of Student Involvement at 205-975-9509 for more information.

Friday, Feb. 12

NAACP Image Awards and Fashion Show, 7 p.m. in Bell Theatre, 1212 University Blvd., next door to the Ullman Building. The event is sponsored by the UAB chapter of NAACP. Call the UAB Office of Student Involvement at 205-975-9509 for more information.

Saturday, Feb. 13

ASC Kids' Club presents a Celebration of Black History Month with "Extraordinary Americans Who Happen to be ..." at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in UAB's Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $8. Call 205-975-2787 or go to In this original production, the ASC Youth Ensemble will present historical events through song, dance and original monologues. Sponsored by Jane Stephens Comer, The Birmingham News and Viva Health.

Saturday, Feb. 13

Soweto Gospel Choir, 8 p.m. in UAB's Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $45, $35, $25; $20 for students and $10 kid-friendly tickets. A limited number of VIP tickets are available. Call 205-975-2787 or go to Come early for a live performance by the Magic City Boys Choir in the ASC Grand Lobby. The musical celebration of Soweto Gospel Choir transcends barriers of race, culture and language. Direct from South Africa, the Grammy-winning, 26-member choir, accompanied by a stellar band and percussion ensemble, is known for its powerful live performances that combine African gospel and modern Western spirituals. Soweto has performed for Nelson Mandela at the famous Cape Town concert and alongside musical greats like Bono, Queen, Jimmy Cliff and the Eurythmics. Many moviegoers enjoyed their recent performance with Peter Gabriel on the soundtrack of the animated blockbuster flick "WALL-E." Part of the Global Rhythm Series. Sponsored by The Birmingham News, WBHM and Viva Health.

Tuesday, Feb. 16

The UAB Foreign Film Series presents "Dreams of Dust" at 8 p.m. in the UAB Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall, 950 13th St. South. The UAB Foreign Film Series, sponsored by the UAB Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, is free and open to the public. Call 205-934-4652 for more details. Laurent Salgues directed this 2006 film. Mocktar, a Nigerian peasant, comes looking for work in Essakane, a dusty gold mine in Northeast Burkino Faso, Africa, where he hopes to forget the past that haunts him. In Essakane, he quickly finds out the gold rush ended 20 years before and the inhabitants of this wasteland exist simply from force of habit. The beautiful Coumba, however, is still courageously struggling to raise her daughter after the death of her family. Mocktar will soon fight not only for his survival, but also to provide a better future for this mother and child. "Dreams of Dust" is in French and Wolof with English subtitles.

Thursday, Feb. 18

Discussion Forum: Combating the Number One Threat to African-Americans - Obesity, 7 p.m. at Heritage Hall, Room 102, 1401 University Blvd. The panel discussion is sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Admission is free.

Sunday, Feb. 21

Morning Service at the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, 11 a.m. at 1530 Sixth Ave. North in Birmingham.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

The Rehabilitation of the Stable African-American Family, 7 p.m. in Heritage Hall Room 102, 1401 University Blvd. The discussion is sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Free Food for Thought, 12:30 p.m. in Hill University Center Room 412, 1400 University Blvd. Admission is free. Panelists will debate whether racism or classism is having the greatest impact on African-Americans today. The event is sponsored by UAB Student Diversity Programs. Call the UAB Office of Student Involvement at 205-975-9509 for more information.

Thursday, Feb. 25

How to Survive and Thrive at UAB as an African-American Student, 7 p.m. in the Hill University Center Alumni Auditorium, 1400 University Blvd. The event is sponsored by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Call the UAB Office of Student Involvement at 205-975-9509 for more information.

Feb. 26

A Celebration of Black Hip-Hop Gospel Music, 2 p.m. outside the Commons on the Green dining facility, 900 16th St. South. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held inside Blazer Hall Residence Life Center, 1111 16th St. South. A celebration of black hip-hop gospel music hosted by radio personality D.J. Strick from 95.7 JAMZ. Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the UAB African-American Studies Program.

Sunday, Feb. 28

Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, featuring Kenny Barron Trio, Regina Carter, Kurt Elling, Russell Malone, Kiyoshi Kitagawa and Johnathan Blake, 3 p.m. in UAB's Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $55, $45, $35; $20 for students. A limited number of VIP tickets are available. Call 205-975-2787 or go to Come at 2 p.m. for live music in the lobby. Celebrate 52 years of the most successful jazz festival in the world with this star-studded show featuring today's top jazz performers: pianist Barron, violinist Carter, seven-time Grammy nominee vocalist Elling and guitarist Malone. Part of the Red Hot & Jazz Series. Sponsored by The Birmingham News, WBHM and Viva Health.