Saint Leo University's annual celebration of Black History Month continues its tradition of highlighting not only history, but also examining plans for the future.

This year's presentation by the College of Arts and Sciences at the Newport News Education Center on Thursday, February 21, features noted political scientist Dr. Andrea Simpson.

Simpson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Richmond in Virginia, will present #MeToo, Media and Monsters: An Intersectional Analysis, which will examine the emergence of a movement to bring to light the problem of sexual harassment and assault in our society. She serves as a member of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Advisory Board at the University of Richmond.

"While scrutiny of this problem began with the entertainment industry, it is quickly spreading to the worlds of professional chefs, politicians, and academia," Simpson said. "How is '#MeToo' framed and constructed by the media, and does it impede a more democratic process where the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty?

"We are challenged by gender and race categories in our struggle to establish a more robust democracy," Simpson continued. "Whenever gender issues come to the fore, they invite race issues as well, hence, the uproar over public figures who have dressed up in 'blackface' at some point in their lives."

Simpson's discussion begins at 6 p.m. in Room 203 at Saint Leo's Newport News Education Center, One Bayport Way, Suite 160, Newport News, VA 23606.

Not only will students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests at Saint Leo's Newport News location be able to participate in this celebration, but the presentation also will be available via livestream to the main campus at 33701 County Road 52, St. Leo, FL, in Room 117 A-B in the Student Activities Building, and at the Gwinnett Education Center  in Room 3. The center is at 3555 Koger Blvd., Clarkston Building, Suite 105, Duluth, GA 30096.

The Black History Month celebration begins at 5 p.m. at the Newport News Education Center with presentations by Saint Leo students. They will present short biographies of significant African-American social scientists. At 5:30 p.m., there be an induction ceremony for new members of Alpha Kappa Delta, an international sociology honor society.

The public is invited to this free event and refreshments will be served.

In her talk about #MeToo, Media and Monsters: An Intersectional Analysis, Simpson will discuss how students can learn more about issues and make an impact on their communities and positive change in their world.

"A community, a city, a state, and a nation, cannot maintain a just society if segments of the population are subjected to violations that cause serious personal harm and limit life chances," Simpson said. "When students learn more about these issues, just the act of increasing awareness can help prevent these violations.

"They can engage in these issues at many levels: How does your institution handle issues of sexual harassment or assault? Is it adequate? How do your friends and family feel about the role of women and minorities in society and how can you open a dialogue with them about these issues? We can all do work where we are—every small act contributes to making the world a better place."

Simpson received the Distinguished Educator Award from the University of Richmond in August 2015, and the Omicron Delta Kappa Award in March 2013 for outstanding service to students in and out of the classroom.

For more information about the Black History Month celebration, contact Dr. Eileen O'Brien at or call (757) 249-0390.

True to Saint Leo's core value of respect, all locations of the university continue to build on the history of serving students of all races, creeds, religions, and ethnic backgrounds. The university was integrated in 1898, when the Benedictine monks who founded the institution admitted a black student, Rudolph Antorcha, from Cuba, even though integration was not yet legal in Florida. The university is consistently ranked among the top 100 degree-granting institutions for minority students.

The views expressed during these events are those of the speaker/presenter and do not necessarily represent the views of the university.