Find your way to connect.

Throughout the year, the Mary Lou Williams Center hosts a number of programs and events. These are great opportunities to learn, celebrate and plug in to our great community.

One of the major tenets of our annual calendar includes programming and events focused on jazz. The Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture offers two programs, Jazz Matters and Jazz @, that highlight the genre's issues and feature opportunities to listen to live jazz music.

Fill your Wednesday evenings with live jazz and the exquisite company of jazz lovers from the campus and community in an energetic and engaging atmosphere. Enjoy live performances by local musicians as well as Duke music students, with special guest artists all brought together by John Brown, Director of the Duke Jazz Studies Program.


Jazz @ begins at 9:30pm and ends at 12:30am. Feel free to stay for just one set or for the entire evening. Comfortable attire and open to the public. Light hors d'oeuvres and liquid refreshment will be provided.

Jazz @ is co-sponsored with DUU and Jazz Studies (Music Department).

Jazz Matters

Embed video:

An evening of enthusiasts who focus on the work, concerns and issues of jazz throughout history and in the present day, Jazz Matters explores the significance of jazz and its influence. Past guests have included vocalist, Lois Deloatch, pianist, Jason Moran, WUNC's General Manager, BH Hudson, and Duke University Library's Jazz Archivist, Jeremy Smith.

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 Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (, and founded the 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.  

In recognition of the 2022 theme of Black Health and Wellness we welcomed the Nap Ministry founder, Tricia Hersey. 

Embed Video:

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 of African descent to visit the campus and be introduced to the Duke experience from Black perspectives. 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. Experts say, the campus visit is the most critical part of the college search.

While the invited students have probably heard a lot about Duke, this is the time when they come see for themselves. We believe they will come away informed, inspired and impressed and in fact we work hard to make sure of it. During the weekend, students have the opportunity to sit in on classes, explore campus resources, participate in fun activities, and hear from current Duke students. Session topics range from academics and financial aid, to living on campus and wellness. And of course, there are lots of extracurriculars mixed in as well! 

Should you have questions about the weekend’s logistics, please contact Duke Admissions via email at or phone 919.684.3214. For any questions about student organizations and events for the weekend please contact the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture via email at or phone 919.684.3814.

Follow our BSAI social media pages throughout the weekend @BSAIatDuke on Instagram and Twitter.

Each year during Commencement weekend, the Mary Lou Williams Center supports Final Honors, a Black student graduation ceremony and reception, for all affiliated seniors and their families.

A student committee enjoys the opportunity to work on this program annually, securing a keynote speaker, student artists to display varied talents and creating a memory book of pictures from throughout the year with words of encouragement from the graduating seniors' families. 

During the Saturday program, students participate by walking across the stage at Page Auditorium, and receiving a special kente cloth stole.  Guests of families, campus, and community members attend to extend best wishes and bid farewell.

Contact the Mary Lou Center for more information. Also, view the video below for a Marking the Moment tribute for the Class of 2020.

Watch Marking the Moment - A dedication to the class of 2020

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 Day is a day of cheer and cheer. It is the day that we celebrate the life and birth of Ms. Williams and the work that she has contributed to the University.

Join us as we commemorate our history and celebrate our future.

Contact the Mary Lou Center for more information. You may also view past Mary Lou Day themes below! 

Watch Mary Lou Day 2020 - A Walk Down Memory Lane

Are you a current student looking to get off campus? If you have an event or learning experience to explore, please contact us to discuss scheduling a trip!

For more information about any of these programs, contact us!