WMU News

Black History Month observed with variety of events

Feb. 5, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Events focusing on African American contributions to the arts and on increasing awareness about social issues that affect the black community will highlight Western Michigan University's observance of Black History Month from Feb. 1 through Feb 28.

Black History Month grew out of efforts by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained African American scholar, and others to more accurately and scientifically depict the achievements, contributions and experiences of African Americans.

Their efforts resulted in Negro History Week being designated in 1926, with a full month being set aside for the observance in 1976. February was chosen largely because it marks the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and notable African Americans such as Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois. February also was the founding month of such pivotal organizations as the NAACP and first Pan African Congress.

Several of the events being planned for this year's celebration of Black History Month at WMU are free and open to the general public. They include the following offerings being co-sponsored by various University offices and student organizations.

On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9, the Exposition VII Minifest [Click for separate article] will be staged in the Dalton Center Recital Hall. This communitywide festival is an annual event that explores different music styles. This year, gospel music is being featured. Activities will begin each day with a 7:30 p.m. lecture followed by a question-and-answer period and live musical performance.

On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16, the Division of Multicultural Affairs and Alpha Omega Christian Fraternity will co-sponsor a discussion forum from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. in the Student Recreation Center. The forum will examine issues that affect students' lives at WMU and take a holistic approach, addressing the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of student development.

On Monday, Feb. 18, the DMA and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority will co-sponsor a black history gospel concert from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Dalton Center Recital Hall. This community-supported concert will celebrate the role gospel music has played in the black community and feature performances by local choirs, soloists, dance teams and poets.

On Monday, Feb. 25, the DMA and Africana Studies Program will co-sponsor a showing of the movie "Sparkle" at 7 p.m. in the Dalton Center Lecture Hall. A discussion of the movie will follow, covering such issues as intra-racial relationships, male-female relationships and the cost of success.

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the DMA and Africana Studies Program will co-sponsor a showing of the movie "Kevin's Room" at 7 p.m. in the Dalton Center Lecture Hall. A discussion of the movie will follow, covering issues including AIDS.

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the DMA and Africana Studies Program will co-sponsor a black summit panel discussion from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 2303 Sangren Hall. This discussion will focus on issues that influence male-female relationships.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, the DMA and Africana Studies Program will serve as hosts for the 2nd annual Undergraduate Student Research Presentation Symposium from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the Brown and Gold Room of the Bernhard Center. The symposium allows students who are involved in faculty-endorsed research projects related to the Africana Studies Program to publicly present their findings, with audience members having a chance to ask questions of the young researchers. A panel of Africana scholars will select the evening's top three presenters, who will be awarded cash prizes up to $150.

On Friday, March 1, the DMA, Africana Studies Program and Black Poets Society will co-sponsor a poetry night from 6 to 9 p.m. at a location to be determined in the Bernhard Center. This event is designed to recognize and appreciate the black influence on the arts, especially poetry. In addition to acknowledging famous black poets, students will share their own work.

For more information about Black History Month activities, contact Sherrie Fuller in WMU's Division of Multicultural Affairs at (269) 387-4785 or <sherrie.fuller@wmich.edu>. Information about the Exposition VII Minifest is available by contacting Dr. Benjamin Wilson, director of WMU's Africana Studies Program, at (269) 387-2667 or <benjamin.wilson@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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