This February, the Black Student Alliance will host legendary filmmaker Spike Lee in celebration of Black History Month.

Established in 1978, the Black Student Alliance works toward creating a better understanding of culture among students through the presentation of diverse programs that showcase artistic and entertainment contributions by African Americans. An annual program is presented each January, honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lee, well-known for his sincere and provocative socio-political critiques, broke onto the scene with the explosive film, "Do the Right Thing," which explored race relations in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. His unscripted presentation will be an opportunity for students to get an inside look what drives the compelling filmmaker.

"My number one issue today is education," said Lee, in a 2011 interview with ESPN. "Half of today's black males don't graduate high school. Only 2 percent of the nation's teachers in America are black men. There are more young black men in prison than in universities. So education is the key."

The presentation is Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. in Burruss Auditorium. Tickets are free to Virginia Tech students with a student ID. Limit 2 tickets per student. A limited number of tickets for the public and Virginia Tech faculty and staff are available for $10 each. Tickets can be picked up or purchased at the Student Centers and Activities ticket office, located on the 1st floor of Squires Student Center at 290 College Ave.

Bria Fletcher of Charlotte, N.C., a senior majoring in biology in the College of Science, is president of the Black Student Alliance. She said speakers like Lee bring awareness to controversial topics that often times are misrepresented or simply not talked about.

“With every important issue, there are always aspects no one wishes to discuss,” said Fletcher. “Throughout his career, Lee’s films have pushed individuals out of their comfort zone and even given individuals the opportunity to think about subjects they had not previously considered. His films allow for these issues to be communicated and ultimately, communicated authentically.”

Lee, born in Atlanta, Ga., to Jacqueline Carroll, a teacher of arts and black literature, and William James Edward Lee III, a jazz musician and composer, is now widely regarded as a premiere African American filmmaker.

He produced "When the Levees Broke," a groundbreaking documentary following the plight of Americans stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and its Peabody Award-winning sequel, "If God's Willing and da Creek Don't Rise." He also produced "4 Little Girls," a grisly Emmy- and Oscar-nominated documentary following the terrorist bombing of an African American church during the Civil Rights Movement. His most recent work is the feature film "Red Hook Summer," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012.

Through his work, Lee has not only solidified his own standing as one of contemporary cinema's most influential figures but has done so in a way that reflects the aspirations of the Black Student Alliance. He has revolutionized the role of black talent in Hollywood, removing decades of stereotypes and marginalized portrayals to establish a new arena for African American voices to be heard.

Free parking for Burruss is available off of Perry Street. Attendees are also welcome to park in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street or the Architecture Annex Lot also on Otey Street. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200.

Written by Drew Knapp.

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