In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” and he designated the month of February officially as “Black History Month.” 50 years earlier, it had been conceived by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and was originally called “Negro History Week.” It was only celebrated for one week in the month of February, but it was the week that spanned the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and eminent abolitionist, Frederick Douglass.
The University of Illinois’s Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, in collaboration with other organizations on campus, has put together over 20 events during the month of February to celebrate Black History Month and to bring cultural awareness and amazingly diverse programming to the community. Below are some events you should check out, and a link to their Facebook Page, where you can find more information about the events happening on campus. Plus, we’ve got the UGL’s pick for Black History Month reading: the graphic novel series entitled “March” by Congressman John Lewis.
At 12pm on February 1st, the BNAACC is having a kick-off celebration! There will be a tasty Caribbean Grill meal, a performance by Soul Premiere, and a preview of their Black History Month events! Come join in the celebration, get some great food, and get ready for a great month of new experiences!
Thursday, February 9th from 12-1pm, visit the BNAACC to listen to Award-Winning Black Composer Jeffrey Mumford give an invigorating music talk. Recently, he has been a part of the “The Black Composer Speaks” series, which is a series of programs showcasing a range of new music by African American composers, where the World Premiere of his new piece “ …becoming” took place. Later that evening, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at Illinois will be hosting a performance titled, “Sonic Illinois: The Black Composer Speaks,” which will include a piece by Mr. Mumford.
Information for that event can be found here: https://krannertcenter.com/events/sonic-illinois-black-composer-speaks
Attend the first of 3 Spike Lee Films Showing at the Virginia Theater on February 13th at 7pm. School Daze is a film that is loosely based on Lee’s experiences as a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Actor Laurence Fishburne plays “Dap” in the musical comedy drama, a student who hopes to unify the study body to actively fight social inequity and addresses divisions within the African American community itself. It costs $5 to see School Daze, but for just $10 you can also attend 2 more Spike Lee films “Clockers” and “Malcom X” which will be shown on the 15th/16th and 17th/18th all at 7pm. For more information check out the Virginia Theater’s website: http://thevirginia.org/event/school-daze-1988/2017-02-13/
BlackTransMagick is the duo of J Mase III, a Black/Trans/Queer Poet and Vita E a percussionist and poet. On Monday, February 20th at 7pm, they will be at the Illini Union Courtyard Cafe to will take you on a journey through poetry, movement and drums in a show inspired by their lives and the world around them. A video preview of their work can be found here: https://youtu.be/iwHswadl4Sc
For more Black History Month events check out the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center’s Facebook, which has event pages for all of the events in February, or check out this poster which includes all of the events.
Black History Month Reading Pick:
The “March Trilogy” is a black and white graphic novel series written by Congressman John Lewis that tells the story of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement through his perspective. These three beautiful graphic novels were published between August 2013 and August 2016 with beautiful writing assistance from Andrew Aydin and illustration and lettering by Nate Powell. The graphic accounts show the atrocities committed against African Americans in the United States, and the heroic actions of Lewis and his fellow Civil Rights Leaders. The books have won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Eisner Award, the Michael L. Printz for excellence in literature for young adults, and the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, among many others. The moving accounts from the 1960’s are beautifully juxtaposed against modern events, like the inauguration of President Barack Obama.