One of the qualities of the IU community I find most admirable is how we value and honor the backgrounds of all students, faculty and staff, as well as our friends and neighbors in the areas surrounding our campuses. While it’s important to keep these histories and traditions in mind all year, the various heritage months give us opportunities to passionately celebrate diverse cultures.
Throughout February, which is Black History Month, IU’s campuses will commemorate the black experience through an array of activities. These programs are sure to be not only exciting, but enlightening and inspiring.
For example, IU-Bloomington’s Black History Month celebration begins with the Black History Month Sankofa Ceremony and Opening Dinner at 6 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. The event, which features a storytelling tour, focuses on African American individuals, institutions and organizations that have made an impact on the IU Bloomington campus.
A few of the other activities I’m looking forward to on the IU Bloomington campus include:
- The 16th Annual African American Read-In from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center’s Grand Hall. This popular staple of IU’s Black History Month celebration, organized by the School of Education, will bring students together to read African American poetry, book passages and their own work.
- The Black Forum Label: Motown Joins the Revolution at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Neal-Marshall’s Black Culture Center’s Grand Hall. Charles E. Sykes, executive director of the African American Arts Institute, will share his expertise on legendary Motown Records and its impact on the Civil Rights Movement.
- Hair Politics: Ode to the Black Barber/Beauty Shops and the Dialogue They Foster at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center’s Grand Hall. Local Bloomington barbers and hairstylists will offer insights on two institutions in the African American community, black barber shops and beauty salons.
IU-Purdue University Indianapolis also has an extremely impressive schedule of events for Black History Month. Its celebration begins with the Black History Month Kick-off, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Campus Center Atrium, and concludes with the Gospel Showcase from 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Campus Center Theater. In between those two events are programs that include:
- Steward Speaker Series: Hill Harper at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Madame Walker Theater. The award-winning actor, best-selling author and philanthropist is the latest addition to the acclaimed ongoing series of impactful speakers to visit the Indianapolis campus.
- Critical Conversations on Black Homicide from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Hine Hall Auditorium. This discussion, which is sponsored by the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, Baptist Minister’s Alliance, and IUPUI’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Multicultural Center and the Office of Community Engagement, will cover an incredibly important issue.
IU’s regional campuses also provide a wide selection of activities to celebrate Black History Month, including:
- At IU-East Richmond, Minorities in Athletics at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in Vivian Auditorium. Jesse Griffin, a former student athlete and current dean of students at Creekside High School in Fairburn, Georgia, will give a presentation on the role of underrepresented minority participants and professionals in sports.
- At IU-Kokomo, The Equality Project from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 5 to 9 in Alumni Hall. This art exhibit will feature photos of a diverse group of IU Kokomo students, faculty, and staff with statements about what equality means to them.
- At IU-Northwest Gary, “Triumph: The Untold Story of Perry Wallace,” at 6 p.m. Feb. 27 in Bergland Auditorium. Members of the IU Northwest community are invited to a screening of the film chronicling the life of the late Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.
- At IU-South Bend, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud: Retrospective on the Godfather of Soul,” from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Civil Rights Heritage Center. The incomparable career of the iconic James Brown will be the focus of this intriguing event.
- At IU-Southeast New Albany, “From the Streets to the Stage,” at 7:30 p.m. March 1 in the Ogle Center’s Stem Hall. Poet and activist Monti Washington will tell his story of overcoming a troubled childhood to become a standout athlete and professional actor before turning his focus to empowering youth.
With the assortment of film screenings, music performances, guest lectures, discussion panels, and other activities, IU’s 2018 celebration of Black History Month is sure to be unforgettable. I encourage all members of the IU community to visit the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs’ website for additional details and a comprehensive calendar of events.