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Programs & Events

Get involved with us! From monthly events, our signature events and especially our 40th anniversary events, we want to celebrate and create community with YOU!

Newsletter 2024

Want to request support on promoting your next event? Or feel that friends of The Mary Lou would benefit from a resource or opportunity?

Our biweekly newsletter is a perfect place for it to be showcased. Submit your events, opportunities and/or resources here.

Signature Programs

Throughout the year, the Mary Lou Williams Center hosts a number of programs and events. Check below to see new and current events or learn more about our signature " Mary Lou" events.



A culturally affirming kick-off to the academic year. Black Convocation invites Black faculty and staff to impart wisdom and inspiration to the student community as they begin the academic year. Student leaders are also invited to share student organization information to help new students connect to peer resources.

The Breaking Bread program provides a monthly opportunity for first-year Black-identified students to build community by engaging with one another, over dinner and an activity held in an East Campus residence hall.

Each first Friday of the month, the Lou brings together the entire Black community for a drop-in event of food, fellowship, and fun to end the week. This event is open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty.

One Thursday a month, Graduate and Professional students come together to enjoy a meal together in the Mary Lou. This program brings together Black-identified students from across the campus allowing an opportunity to connect with one another as well as various campus partners.

A brief, 3-day early-college retreat for incoming first-year students that employs the construct of Community Cultural Wealth to engage students in an asset-based approach to racial socialization.

The roots of Black History Month go back to 1926 when noted historian, Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves, launched the first observance of Negro History Week in February of that year. Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to documenting and preserving Black History and culture and is often called the " father of black history". In 1915, he created the Association for the Study of Journal of Negro History soon after. What began as Negro History Week in 1926 was first celebrated as Black History Month in 1970 at the urging of students at Kent State University.

Black History Month 2023: 6 black females smiling

Keynote Lecture with Kimberly Latrice Jones, an activist, author and filmmaker.

See our 2023 BHM calendar collaboration with The Center for Multicultural Affairs.

2023 BHM calendar

Every spring late in the semester, the center celebrates its namesake - Mary Lou Williams.

Featuring a delectable theme, the center honors Ms. Williams with an assortment of delightful treats and jazz music. It is always a pleasure to take time out to honor those who have gone before us, and what better time to do it and what better person to honor than the woman who dedicated her talents and skills to Duke University unto her passing.

Mary Lou is a day of cheer and celebration. We hope you will Join us as we commemorate history and celebrate our future.

Each year since the 1970s, Duke Admissions invites select, first-year, Black prospective students to the Black Student Alliance invitational Weekend, or BSAI. BSAI Weekend is held every spring to allow around 100 invited prospective students to visit campus and be introduced to the Duke experience form the Black perspective.The weekend involves current students hosting invited prospective students via overnight stays and a variety of events and activities that showcase the people , places, and programs available to our Duke students.

While the invited students have probably heard a lot about Duke, this is the time they can come see for themselves. We believe they will leave informed, inspired and impressed. During the weekend, students have the opportunity to sit in on classes, explore campus resources, participate in fun activities and her from curet Duke students. Session topics range from academics and financial aid, to living on campus and wellness.

Should you have questions about the weekend's logistics,

Please contact Duke Admissions via email : or phone 9196843214

For questions about student organizations and events,

Please contact The Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture via email: or phone 9196843814

Follow out BSA social media pages @BSAIatDuke on Instagram and Twitter

Each year, the Mary Lou Williams Center hosts Final Honors, which is a Black Student graduation ceremony and reception. During this annual program, all affiliated graduating undergraduate and graduate/professional students participate by walking across the stage at Page Auditorium and receiving a special kente cloth stole. Duke Alumni, campus partners, graduates' family members, and community members attend to extend best wishes and bid farewell. 

Watch Final Honors 2023