Campus and community celebrate Black History Month

Collage of images from 'Don't Touch My Hair'

Galas, workshops, lectures, films, banquets and more are scheduled throughout campus and in the community in honor of Black History Month in February.

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, occurs every February. It celebrates the achievements by black Americans and recognizes the central role of African-Americans in the U.S.

Among the many events featured at the UO will be the Excellence Gala put on by the Black Student Union at the Ford Alumni Center on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m.; an opening reception for the “Don’t Touch my Hair” exhibit at the Jordon Schnitzer Museum on Feb. 23, at 4 p.m.; and a lecture by Stanford professor and social psychologist Claude Steele titled “The Science of Diverse Community” on Feb. 2, at noon at the UO School of Law. Steele’s visit is part of the African American Workshop and Lecture Series.

Other workshops and lectures include topics as diverse as freedom of speech with jonathan a. powell; race and labor with Bill Fletcher; the work of Cameroonian writer Mongo Beti with Andre Djiffack; the intersections between pictures and words with New York-based photographer, writer and teacher Wolukau-Wanambwa; and a talk and reception with director and co-creator of “Brown Girls,” Sam Bailey.

A number of films also will be featured across campus throughout the month. “Sista in the Brotherhood” is about a young, black tradeswoman who must learn to prove herself on a new job site; “Marshall” depicts the story of Thurgood Marshall; and “Talking Black in America” showcases the history and symbolic role of language in the lives of African-Americans and highlights its tremendous impact on the speech and culture of the United States.

University members are also involved with and supporting events in the local community, such as the eighth annual Black History Month Banquet sponsored by Blacks in Government and the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner.

Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh is excited about the offerings, which serve to remember the past, honor the present and move the community forward into the future.

“Particularly during these challenging times, it’s essential that we remember the work and the struggle of those who came before us and celebrate all that we are doing now,” she said. “To see the breadth and depth of events and activities across the UO and the community provides us all with hope.”

Black History Month originated as Negro History Week in 1925. It was conceived by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History to raise awareness of African-American contributions. In 1976, the celebration was expanded to a month by President Gerald R. Ford.

The UO celebrates Black History Month each year with a variety of events that celebrate, honor and highlight the work and culture of black Americans. More information can be found on the Division of Equity and Inclusion website.

—By tova stabin, University Communications