SUNY Cortland will celebrate Black History Month (BHM) throughout February with a series of events including exhibitions, lectures, sandwich seminars an historical re-enactment and musical performances.
BHM campus events will be posted online in the College’s home page calendar and on the Africana Studies Department and the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office websites. Events are open to the public and free unless otherwise noted.
Highlights will include:
• Throughout February, visitors may view the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Traveling Abolition Museum” in Memorial Library first and second floor lobby areas. An opening ceremony for the library exhibit, “Abolishing the Chains of Slavery: Central New Yorkers to the Rescue,” on loan from the Peterboro, N.Y., hall of fame and museum, will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, on the Memorial Library second floor.
• A discussion with Milton Sernett, professor emeritus of African American studies and history at Syracuse University. Sernett, who has researched African American religious history and the abolition movement, will discuss “We Must Abolish Slavery! — North Star Shining: The Abolition Crusade in Upstate New York” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in Corey Union Exhibition Lounge.
• A stomping, clapping, slapping high-energy rhythms performance by the critically acclaimed Step Afrika dance company on Monday, Feb. 13. The Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS) presentation will begin at 8 p.m. in the Corey Union Function Room. Tickets cost $5 for general admission and $3 for SUNY Cortland students. Children 10 years old and younger will be admitted for free. Tickets can be purchased in Corey Union, Room 406, or one hour prior to the performance outside the Corey Union Function Room. For ticket information or questions, contact the Campus Activities and Corey Union Office at (607) 753-5574.
• A lecture and two performances by Robert Djed Snead, an historical re-enactor, lecturer and storyteller from Rochester, N.Y., hosted by Memorial Library. Snead will discuss and share some re-enactments in his program titled “Re-Enacting a Historical Figure (Rev. Jermain W. Loguen)” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. At 7 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 205, Snead will perform “Escaped Slave and Now Rev. Jermain W. Loguen Visits Cortland.”
• Judith Wellman, a faculty member at SUNY Oswego and the Historical New York Research Associates, will present a sandwich seminar on “Harriet Tubman and Beyond: Documenting the Underground Railroad in New York State,” on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Her lecture takes place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
• A presentation by Noelle Chaddock Paley, director of the College’s Multicultural Life and Diversity Office and a faculty member of the Africana Studies Department and representative of the Educational Opportunity Program. On Thursday, Feb. 23, she will discuss “Mixed Race and Black Identity Development: Historical Inheritance and Intimate Realities,” at noon in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
• The annual Cultural Celebration by the SUNY Cortland Gospel Choir. The event takes place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, in the Corey Union Function Room. The choir, which tours internationally under the direction of Robert Brown, will be accompanied by the College’s A Cappella harmony ensemble. Tickets: $3 for all students and $5 for general admission.
• A sandwich seminar by Joe Feagin, the Ella C. McFadden Professor of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. He will present “Racial History My Teacher Never Told Me About” from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 29, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. That day, Feagin also will give an open classroom lecture on “Racial Diaries of White and Black Students: No Post-Racial America” at 7 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 105.
“Black History Month is not about the glorification of negritude or the intoxication with the presumption of Blackness and Afrocentricity,” said organizer Seth Asumah, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department. “Rather, it is hope-affirming and life-affirming by enabling us to build new bridges for connecting the Africana world with what is American, European, Asian and Latin American. This celebration brings us to a level of human decency because of our profound interdependence and the need for one another’s culture, history, and experience.
In the U.S., Black History Month commenced in 1926 when its founder, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, and other African American and white scholars realized the lack of studies and documentation about black history and the apparent disrespect for black culture. Previously called Negro History Week, the commemorative period was renamed Black History Week in 1972 and Black History Month in 1976.
“SUNY Cortland continues to bear the vision of Dr. Woodson that black history is America’s history and that the two are inseparable in context and content by involving the entire Cortland community in the month-long celebration,” Asumah said.
The Africana Studies Department has organized BHM events for the College since the late 1970s. For the last 11 years, the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, Black Student Union, Women of Color, Men of Value and Excellence, and Caribbean Student Association have collaborated with Africana Studies to organize the campus BHM events.
Black History Month event sponsors include the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs’ Office, President’s Office, Dean of Arts and Sciences’ Office, Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, Black Student Union, Political Science Department, Political Science Association, Campus Artist and Lecture Series, the Africana Studies Department, Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies, Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee, the Caribbean Student Association, Memorial Library, Friends of Memorial Library and United University Professions.
For more information about the Cultural Celebration, contact Distinguished Service Professor Samuel L. Kelley at (607) 753-4104. The library events were organized by Associate Librarian David Ritchie. For more information, contact him at (607) 753-2818. For more information about Black History Month, contact Asumah at (607) 753-2064, or in Old Main, Room 208-B.