Each September, Welcoming America promotes inclusiveness through its Welcoming Week campaign. This year, Virginia Tech has partnered with the City of Roanoke and local organizations to present new programming, in recognition of Roanoke Welcoming Week from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20.

The events, presented by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and the Roanoke Graduate Student Association, explore Roanoke’s history of racial segregation and celebrate diversity.

Community members are encouraged to tune into a virtual Roanoke Black History Panel Discussion from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, presented via Zoom. Panelists include Jordan Bell, a local historian and activist; Matt Chittum, a veteran Roanoke journalist and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s communications and web manager; Dolly Davis, an architect, the president and co-founder of Ladies and Gents of the Blue Ridge – Transgender Alliance, and vice chair for Diversity Camp Inc.; Gloria Manns, a local licensed clinical social worker; Stephanie Moon Reynolds, a former Roanoke City Clerk; and Reggie Shareef, a professor of political science at Radford University.

After the panel discussion, everyone is invited to walk, bike, drive, or run along a self-guided 5K tour through Historic Gainsboro — a neighborhood that was once one of the most vibrant centers of Black culture and commerce in the American South. Participants can enter to win prizes, including gift cards to local businesses and books, by visiting at least five of the ten checkpoints and submitting a form online.

These events are also presented in recognition of the university’s InclusiveVT Campaign and InclusiveVT Week, which concludes on Sept. 11. 

Media Contact: Whitney Slightham