UO plans events to honor and celebrate Black History Month

Art exhibit

Each February Black History Month offers an opportunity to honor and celebrate the accomplishments, struggles and sacrifices of the Black community.

Aris Hall, coordinator of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center, pointed to Black History Month in light of the array of social and political issues that arose last year and continue into the current one and the affect they have had on the Black community.

“The injustices exhibited in the Black community highlights the disparities in the U.S. and how much farther we have to go to truly be equal,” Hall said in an email. “In spite of this, the celebration of Black History Month will highlight and inform the various ways that Black folx excel in a multitude of ways no matter our circumstance."

“Folx” is an alternative spelling to the familiar word "folks." The spelling has been adopted by some communities because it can be used to indicate inclusion of marginalized groups.

At the UO, Black History Month’s opening event will be an online mixer sponsored by the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center. Soul2Soul Networking Night will take place Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.  Students, faculty members and staff are invited to be part of this new tradition that started last year and kicks off a month of campus activities.

The next evening, Feb. 2, at 5:30 p.m., will feature an informational discussion, “Black Greek 101,” sponsored by the UO’s Culturally Based Fraternal Organizations group.

The Black Cultural Center will offer events throughout the month. On Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. the center will present “State of Advocacy through the Lens of UO Black Scholars,” which is part of the State of Blackness Series. On Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. the cultural center, in collaboration with Black Women of Achievement, will present “Black Love: The Essence of Black Women.”

On Feb. 19 from noon to 3 p.m. the center will host “The More You Know…HIV Testing,” with COVID-19 protocols and privacy. The event is sponsored by Prevention Services Office and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Education and Support Services Office.

Each Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. is  Super Soul Tuesdays, a joint effort of the cultural center and the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence. Super Soul offers the Black community a time to study, connect and receive support from staff and faculty members across campus. Check the Black Cultural Center website for further information and events.

 Local and nationally known speakers will be heard throughout the month, and two African American Workshop and Lecture Series speakers are part of the February lineup.

Kimberly Johnson, UO assistant vice provost for advising and director for the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence will present “How Far Do You Have To Go For Justice? Acting Beyond the Vote” on Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. Registration is required. Johnson also is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novel “This Is My America.”

The Derrick Bell Lecture from the UO School of Law collaborates with the series to host Lia Epperson, professor of law and senior associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at American University Washington College of Law. She will be speaking on “Are We Still Not Saved? Race, Democracy, and Educational Inequality” on Feb. 12 at noon. Registration is required.

Epperson and Johnson will also meet with students, faculty members and staff in smaller discussion groups through their visits.

The annual UO School of Journalism and Communication Ruhl Lecture will feature Nikole Hannah-Jones speaking on “1619 and the Legacy That Built a Nation” on Feb. 19 at 4:30 p.m. The event includes a panel discussion with UO faculty members and students about the need to remain vigilant in the fight against racial inequality at a time when the United States is deeply divided. Hannah-Jones is a MacArthur fellow, winner of the National Book Award and a New York Times Magazine staff writer. 

On Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, as part of its ‘Science, Policy, and the Public” theme of inquiry, will host a panel discussion on “The History and Future of Scientific Racism and Eugenics.” Panelists include Alexandra Minna Stern, professor of history, American culture and women's and gender studies and associate dean for the humanities at the University of Michigan and Jada Benn Torres, associate professor of anthropology and the director for the Laboratory of Genetic Anthropology and Biocultural Studies at Vanderbilt University.

Ebo Barton, a Black trans poet and writer, will give a performance and writing workshop Feb. 18 from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. The event is sponsored by the UO Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Education and Support Services.

The BE Series will present BE Heard with David Walker on Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. Walker is a comic book writer and filmmaker who has worked for Marvel, DC and Image Comics. He is the co-creator of the comics “Bitter Root” and “Naomi” and author of the graphic novel “The Life of Fredrick Douglas.”

Black History Month events are also happening in the community. The NAACP Eugene/Springfield will offer a program for National Black HIV Awareness Day on Feb. 7 at 1 p.m., and its annual Freedom Fund Dinner, virtual this year, will be held Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. For more information see the NAACP website.

Nationally, Black History Month has been recognized since 1915 when historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Each year the association chooses a theme for Black History Month. The 2021 theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” The association notes that “the family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present.”

For more information on these and other campus and community events, check the websites of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center and the Division of Equity and Inclusion.

—By tova stabin, University Communications