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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (Feb. 11, 2021) – In celebration of Black History Month, the Virginia Beach History Museums, Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni and Friends Association (PACTS/UKHS) and Norfolk State University (NSU) are hosting “Lift Me On Up: The Power and Influence of the Black Family,” a FREE virtual panel discussion on February 24 from noon-1:30pm.

Incorporating the 2021 Black History Month theme, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” this 90-minute panel discussion will focus on the history, politics, and social factors affecting African Americans from a family perspective, and opportunities for positive change. Panelists include:

  • Dr. Colita Fairfax, Professor of Social Work and Honors College Senior Faculty Fellow, Norfolk State University
  • Dr. Robert Perkins, Professor of Sociology, Norfolk State University
  • Mrs. Margie Wilson Coefield, Community Leader and graduate of Union Kempsville High School
  • Mrs. Edna Hawkins-Hendrix, Community Leader and graduate of Union Kempsville High School
  • Ms. Barbara Morgan Robinson, Community Leader, graduate of Princess Anne County Training School and former teacher at Union Kempsville High School
  • Mrs. Joyce Davis Williams, Community Leader
  • Dr. Admon Alexander, Community Relations, Virginia Beach City Public Schools

“This crucial conversation will highlight key themes of identity, representation and diversity,” said Emily Labows, Director of the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department. “Through this panel discussion, we look forward to bringing together a diverse array of community leaders, historians and advocates to share and explore these important stories.”

The panel, to be moderated by Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Dean of the NSU College of Liberal Arts, will cover a broad base of discussion points pertaining to the history and culture of the African American community. Panelists will give historical context, tracing the history of the African American family through the pre- and post-Reconstruction era, segregation, the Civil Rights movement and up until modern times.

“Lift Me on Up: The Power and Influence of the Black Family” seeks to begin an important dialogue about the City of Virginia Beach’s African American communities,” said Dr. Newby-Alexander. “These communities were a bulwark against the most egregious municipal policies that marginalized communities, deprived them of public funds and resources, and limited their political voices. Yet, the power and resilience of the Black family was at the heart of how these communities thrived as centers of businesses and educational excellence.”

Lift Me On Up: The Power and Influence of the Black Family” will stream via Zoom on Wednesday, February 24 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The panel will be an open discussion format and will allow for public questions or contributions with assistance from the moderator. Visit NSU’s website for more details and to register for the event.

If you have any questions about the panel discussion, please email Hillary Plate, Cultural Programming and Grants Coordinator for the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department, at


The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations.


Norfolk State University (NSU) is a comprehensive urban public university committed to offering rigorous academic programs, and a supportive culturally diverse learning environment. As one of the most affordable four-year public institutions of higher education in Virginia, NSU provides opportunity and access to a globally competitive education, preparing students to compete in the 21st century workforce. Our nationally, and internationally, recognized faculty utilize a student-centered teaching philosophy that correlates to student success in unique areas of study such as Cybersecurity, CyberPsychology, Entrepreneurship and a nationally acclaimed Theatre/Drama program.