A new annual lectureship, the Marion Osborne Matheson Black History Month Lecture, will be inaugurated Feb. 19 this year. Colby’s African-American Studies Program established the annual lecture to advance the celebration of Black History Month and to honor the late Matheson, who was Colby’s first African-American woman graduate, a member of the Class of 1900.
Bowdoin College Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Judith Casselberry will deliver the inaugural Marion Osborne Matheson Lecture at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, in Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building. Her talk is titled “Solving the Mystery of Grace Jones: It’s the Holy Ghost!”
Matheson was the daughter of a long-serving Colby custodian, Samuel Osborne, the son of an African-born former slave and a former slave himself. Samuel Osborne worked at Colby from 1867 to 1903. Marion, one of seven surviving Osborne children, was the only one to graduate from Colby. Following her graduation and her marriage she moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where she worked as an educator and a bookkeeper. After her husband died she returned to Waterville, where she was an active and respected member of the community for more than two decades before her death in 1954.
Because of the ways that women’s roles in Africana studies have been obscured or shielded from prominence, the Marion Osborne Matheson Lectureship explicitly encourages inclusion of the experiences and contributions of women, according to Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of African-American Studies and Sociology.
Among many additional Black History Month events at Colby this year are four film screenings, a panel discussion titled “Black Women, Mobilizations, Civil Rights, and Community Work” Feb. 24, and a Sounds of Blackness Show Feb. 28. More detailed information is available here.