As October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month approaches, the West Virginia University Division of Social Work in Wheeling will focus on the issue of violence as an assault on civil rights through hearing from a longtime civil rights activist.

Gaye Adegbalola, a longtime civil rights activist, blues musician and essayist will present a lecture entitled “Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs” on Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Ohio Valley Medical Center’s Nursing Residence Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public and includes a pre-lecture reception beginning at 5 p.m.

Adegbalola will present an engaging speech about the past, the present and hope for the future. Sharing first-hand experiences and insights gained during her participation in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Adegbalola narrates her own struggle for equality. From embracing the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King and sitting-in and picketing, to the Black Power Movement and Malcolm X, she relates how she followed her own path on a journey to self-acceptance, empowerment and freedom.

Adegbalola’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on violence as an assault on civil rights. The panel will include Doris Nicholas Ed.D., Master of Social Work, coordinator of recruitment and retention, Division of Social Work, WVU; Ryan Nubbins, Bachelor of Social Work student, WVU; Paula Planey, community education coordinator, Tri-County Help Center, Inc.; and Leila Jahantab Miller, Master of Social Work candidate studying in the Wheeling cohort group.

The panel discussion is co-sponsored by Bethany College, Tri-County Help Center, Inc., NASW-WV and the WVU Office of Extended Learning.

On Sept. 30, Adegbalola, who is perhaps best-known as a blues musician, will perform a concert with accompanist Roddy Barnes at 6:30 p.m. on Bethany College’s Renner Too stage.

As a song-writer and musician, Adegbalola travels nationally and internationally and has won numerous awards including the prestigious Blues Music Award. She is a founding member of Saffire—The Uppity Blues Women, and has recorded over 15 albums during her career.

Born Gaye Todd and raised in Fredericksburg, Va., Adegbalola graduated as valedictorian of the then-segregated Walker-Grant High School. She majored in biology and minored in chemistry at Boston University. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked as a technical writer for TRW Systems, a biochemical researcher at Rockefeller University, and a bacteriologist at Harlem Hospital. She has a master’s degree in educational media with a concentration in photography from Virginia State University.

In the early 1970s, she began her teaching career. She was an educator in the Fredericksburg City Public School system for 18 years, and honored as Virginia State Teacher of the Year in 1982.

During her teaching career, Ms. Adegbalola moonlighted as a musician. By maintaining the blues legacy, she now sees herself as a contemporary griot—keeping the history alive, delivering messages of empowerment, ministering to the heartbroken and finding joy in the mundane. She is now a full-time performer and maintains her own recording label, Hot Toddy Music.

To RSVP for the pre-lecture reception on Sept. 29, or for more information, contact Chatman Neely, Wheeling MSW program coordinator, at 304-692-0141, or send an email to or


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