Tag: Black History Month

Student collaborations put new focus on Black History Month events at Lawrence

Sarah Navy ’22 and Malcolm Davis ’23 took the lead in organizing a series of Black History Month events. Navy is president of the Black Student Union. Davis is program coordinator of the Diversity and Intercultural Center.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University’s celebration of Black History Month during February includes a series of student-organized events that are shining new light on Black history and culture.

The series comes out of new collaborations between the Diversity and Intercultural Center (D&IC) and the Black Student Union (BSU), led by Sarah Navy ’22, the president of BSU, and Malcolm Davis ’23, program coordinator for the D&IC.

“After attending any of these events people will hopefully leave having learned something new that they can then share with others,” Davis said. “Putting aside sharing, individual growth is huge as well. After attending one of the events, you may leave with a different perspective, or a new understanding of a topic. All of this, I think, will elevate conversation and education surrounding Black history.”

The new series kicked off Feb. 2 with Black History Jeopardy and continues with the following virtual events:

6 p.m. Feb. 9: Film screening of the documentary Talking Black in America.

4-9 p.m. Feb. 11: African Heritage Emerging Leaders Institute.

6 p.m. Feb. 16: A Q&A discussion of the film Talking Black in America. The discussion will be facilitated by Associate Producer Renee Blake, who is featured in the documentary. She will co-facilitate with Executive Producer Walt Wolfram.

6 p.m. Feb. 23: A book discussion of Heavy, open to BSU members only.

Information on how to access the events can be found here.

The series augments other activities in February organized by either the D&IC or BSU or in collaboration with other student groups, including Lunar New Year (Feb. 13), Cultural Expressions (Feb. 27), and a range of activities during the final week of February titled AIO Presents Honoring Black History.

Events to catch in a busy Winter Term. See more here.

Cultural Expressions will be a virtual event this year. Watch for details to be announced.

“We want to have an event that would allow us all to come together, on-campus or not,” Navy said. “And for those of us here, we wanted to do it the safest way possible. The theme for this year will be ‘Black Love’.”

Meanwhile, AIO Presents Honoring Black History will be held Feb. 21-27. To be presented virtually, it’s a collaborative effort between various student organizations, including All is One (AIO), BSU, Beta Psi Nu (BYN), Pan-Asian Organization (PAO), LU Native Americans (LUNA), and Colores. The focus is on “understanding the intricacies of our communities and how blackness can be centered to educate and develop relationships.” A kickoff dinner with limited seating, hosted by AIO, is being organized for Feb. 21. The virtual sessions to follow include:

5 p.m. Feb. 22: Brown Girl Recovery, with Brienne Colston ’15, hosted by BYN.

6 p.m. Feb. 24: Building Generational Wealth in the Black Community, with Cordero Barkley, hosted by BSU.

5 p.m. Feb. 25: Anti-Blackness in the Asian American & Pacific Islander Community, with Maddie Schumacher, hosted by PAO.

7 p.m. Feb. 25: Keynote with Menominee speaker Sasanehsaeh Jennings, hosted by LUNA.

4 p.m. Feb. 26: Loving Radically, with Yante Turner, hosted by Colores.

Students can look for access information to the virtual events in the weekly LU Insider.

Navy said the BSU’s annual presentation of Cultural Expressions remains an important February event, but the launch of these student-directed Black History Month events, and the collaboration with other student groups and the D&IC, will hopefully widen needed conversation on campus.

“There are certain things that need to be understood to move forward,” she said. “I believe that the education, the continuance, and the familiarity of these events can propel us in the right step of accepting and appreciating, and not appropriating, Black culture.”

Davis said the events stem from a desire to go deeper into Black history. Collaborating with the BSU seemed a perfect fit.

“This collaboration allows the D&IC and BSU to combine our resources to produce programming for our community that we have not seen in years past,” Davis said.

Navy said she’s particularly looking forward to the screening of Talking Black in America and the conversation to follow. The documentary explores the history of African American speech, from legacy and identity to linguistic profiling, language-based discrimination, and public misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

“I get a chance to learn about a part of me that is seen as either something that needs to be excused to some or something that can be appreciated by others, and I rather do the latter,” Navy said. “What also makes this special is that the event is open to the whole campus to learn as well.”

Davis and Navy said they are hopeful this year’s Black History Month events will be the start of annual collaborations.

“I do expect this to become an annual event,” Navy said. “Black history is American history. Black history is now. I am hoping that once my colleagues and I move on, this intentionality and passion for creating a space for Black culture will continue to thrive.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Black Excellence Ball, Cultural Expressions add to February celebrations, discussions

Singing, dancing, and much more will again be part of the annual Cultural Expressions celebration, set for Feb. 29 in Warch Campus Center.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Lawrence University’s Black Student Union (BSU) will host events each of the next two weekends that honor Black History Month and celebrate people of color on campus and beyond.

The second annual Black Excellence Ball will be held Saturday, Feb. 22. It is a formal dance used as a way to showcase the beauty and elegance that is racially diverse people. It is open to all racially diverse people and allies.

This year’s Excellence Ball is themed All That Jazz and will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center.

The following weekend, Cultural Expressions, an annual talent showcase, will be held Feb. 29, beginning at 7 p.m., also in Warch. It’ll be preceded by a dinner in the Diversity and Intercultural Center in Memorial Hall at 6 p.m. and an art gallery display in Warch at 6 p.m.

Cultural Expressions has become a February tradition at Lawrence, one of the highlights of winter term.

More: Prom Night in Mississippi to get screening, discussion in Warch Cinema

The Excellence Ball was added last year, joining with Cultural Expressions to provide bookends to a People of Color Empowerment Week on campus. Empowerment Week is organized by AIO in collaboration with Alianza, Beta Psi Nu, BSU, Diversity and Intercultural Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and SOUP.

Among the events happening during Empowerment Week: Kickoff dinner at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Diversity and Intercultural Center; Mariposas Del Alma, a Los Angeles-based band representing the Latinx communities, performing at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Warch; a screening (and discussion) of the 2008 documentary, Prom Night in Mississippi, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in Warch Cinema; a Brown Girl Recovery Workshop at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Diversity and Intercultural Center; Cooking for COTS from 4 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 in Sabin House; and comedian Jasmine Ellis performing at 8 p.m. Feb. 28 in Warch. Also, the Cultural Expressions Art Gallery will be on display from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 28 in Warch.

Cultural Expressions will serve as the finale for the big week. It annually features a bevy of Lawrence students performing everything from music and dance to spoken word and comedy. 

Admission for all of the student-organized events is free.

Awa Badiane is a student writer in the Communications office.

Life, Legacy of Lynching Survivor Focus of Lawrence University Black History Presentation

APPLETON, WIS. — James Cameron, the sole survivor of a 1930 lynching and the founder of the Black Holocaust Museum, will be the subject of a Black History Month presentation at Lawrence University.

Sandra Adell, professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presents “The Life and Legacy of Dr. James Cameron,” Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in Lawrence’s Science Hall 102.

As a 16 year old, Cameron narrowly escaped one of the most infamous lynchings in the nation’s history after he and two acquaintances were arrested, accused of robbing and killing a white man and raping his girl friend in Marion, Ind. Shortly after their arrest, the three men were dragged from jail by a lynch mob. While the other two young men were hanged from a tree in front of the courthouse, Cameron, with noose around his neck, was spared when a voice in the crowd cried out he had nothing to do with killing or raping anyone.

Cameron, who kept a piece of the rope that had scarred his neck, was later sentenced to five years in prison for robbery. In 1993, Marion city officials pardoned Cameron, issued a formal apology and presented him a key to the city.

His near-death experience and a trip to Israel’s Jewish Holocaust Museum inspired Cameron to create the Black Holocaust Museum, which chronicles the history of lynchings in America. After nine years of work and $5,000 of his own money, Cameron opened the museum on June 19, 1988 in Milwaukee.

Cameron recounted the events of his hallowing experience in his 1982 memoir “A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story.” The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recognized Cameron with an honorary degree in 1999. He passed away at the age of 92 in 2006.

Adell, a scholar of black literature, has taught in the UW Afro-American Studies department since 1989. She recently edited a revised edition of “A Time of Terror” that is under review at the University of Wisconsin Press and was the volume editor of the “Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Culture: African American Culture.” She also is the author of the 2002 book “Literary Masters: Toni Morrision.”

Lawrence University Hosts Town Hall Forum with Four Black Authors

Four distinguished writers will participate in a town hall style forum at Lawrence University Monday, Feb. 21 as part of the 2005 Black Author’s College Tour. The forum, focusing on issues that shape and impact the African-American community, will be held at 7 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102 on the Lawrence campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Participating in the forum will be authors Brandon Massey, Jamise Dames, Lois Benjamin and Yasmin Shiraz. Each will give a brief talk addressing a specific issue related to the African-American community and then take part in an open discussion with audience members.

A resident of Atlanta, Ga., Massey will address issues of the black man’s challenge in America. He self-published his first novel, “Thunderland,” in 1999 and a revised edition was republished in 2002 by Kensington Publishing. His second book, “Dark Corner,” a vampire novel set in rural Mississippi, was released in January, 2004, while “Dark Dreams: A Collection of Horror and Suspense by Black Writers,” was published last August. His latest work, the supernatural thriller “Within the Shadows,” is scheduled for release in June.

Dames, a published songwriter and former recording artist, will share her insights on the importance of sustaining self esteem in the black community. She is the author of the national best-seller “Momma’s Baby Daddy’s Maybe” (2003) and “Pushing Up Daisies” (2004). A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a degree in English and an emphasis in creative writing, Dames is currently pursuing graduate studies.

Benjamin, a professor of sociology at Virginia’s Hampton University, will speak on the secrets of the black elite. She is the author of “The Black Elite: Facing the Color Line in the Twilight of the Twentieth Century,” for which she interviewed 100 prominent African-Americans. She also served as editor of the 1997 book “Black Women in the Academy,” a collection of essays written by 33 black female academics and administrators from around the country who discuss their experiences of working in higher education in America. Benjamin earned a Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.

Shiraz, a journalist and empowerment speaker, will examine the impact of hip-hop culture on the African-American community. She is the author of the 2004 book “The Blueprint for My Girls” and is working on a sequel, “The Blueprint For My Girls In Love.”

As an entertainment reporter, Shiraz has written for a variety of publications, including Black Enterprise, Upscale, Impact and the Electronic Urban Report and has interviewed numerous celebrities, including Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, singers Jay-Z, Queen Latifah and Brandy, actors Jada Pinkett-Smith and Martin Lawrence and attorney Johnnie Cochran, among others.

The Black Authors Tour program is sponsored by Lawrence’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and is part of the college’s celebration of Black History Month.