Events Commemorate Black History Month


Events Commemorate Black History Month

SUNY Cortland will celebrate Black History Month (BHM) through the end of February with a series of events including lectures, sandwich seminars, book chats, Africana dance, the annual Black Student Union Conference and dinner, and a performance by a storyteller in the West African tradition.

“Events outside and within this country — about people of color and whites — are acute reminders that we still have a long road to travel and hard work to do on the history and ‘herstory’ of Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall, as President Obama challenged us to do,” said series organizer Seth Asumah, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department. 

“We at SUNY Cortland are doing our best to celebrate the achievements of sung and unsung heroes and ‘sheroes’ who worked hard and spilled their blood so that we can be at the crossroads of freedom and equality today.”

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.

Events continue as follows:

• Mecke Nagel will lead a sandwich seminar titled “Diversity Studies in the Global University” at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. A SUNY Cortland philosophy professor, Nagel chairs the College’s Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies (CGIS).

• The Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee will sponsor a faculty discussion of Henrietta Lacks at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, in Jacobus Lounge. The program will be moderated by Theresa Curtis, an associate professor of biological sciences at SUNY Cortland. Faculty presenters include Curtis; Elyse Purcell, lecturer in philosophy; and Jill Murphy, associate professor of health. Lacks is a woman who became the subject of a book that investigates the collision of medical science and racial divisions in this country, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The volume by Rebecca Skloot raises questions about our common humanity and therefore the committee chose to focus on it this spring as part of the year-long intellectual discussion theme of In/Common. The book also reinforces last year’s discussion of civility versus incivility and the importance of community building and civil behavior.

• Lyndon Huling, the College’s assistant director of Multicultural Life and Diversity, will present a sandwich seminar titled “Tokenism: Myths and Realities in the Academy.” The presentation will begin at noon on Thursday, Feb. 14, in Jacobus Lounge.

• The Black Student Union (BSU) will host the annual Kings and Queens conference and dinner/ball on Saturday, Feb. 16. Planned as both an educational and unforgettable experience in celebrating the Civil Rights Movement, the conference will take place from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the Corey Union Exhibition Lounge and three workshop locations in the building. In collaboration with the conference, BSU will be hosting a dinner and ball titled, “A Night in Kemet” at the Ramada Inn. Dinner begins at 9 p.m. and the dance lasts from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. Limousine pickups and drop-offs will be provided. The cost to attend the conference and ball is $10 for SUNY Cortland students, $12 for non-SUNY Cortland students and $15 for faculty and staff; to attend the conference only or ball only is $8 and $5 for SUNY Cortland students; and $10 and $7 for non-SUNY Cortland students. Faculty and staff may attend the ball only for $10.

• Kassim Kone, professor of anthropology and linguistics, will present “The Tuareg Rebellions in the Sahel: The Race Hypothesis in Black and White Africa” on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The talk begins at 4:30 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 205.

• Peggy Murphy, a SUNY Cortland political science lecturer, will present “Natural Disasters: Beyond Race, Gender and Class” on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The sandwich seminar starts at 12:30 p.m. in the Old Main Colloquium Room.

• Vanessa Johnson, a griot or storyteller in the West African tradition, will present “Women’s Narratives in the Civil Rights Movement” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Sperry Center, Room 105.

• Brendan Dunn, a SUNY Cortland graduate student in history, will present a sandwich seminar titled “The Black Panther Party and Civil Rights” on Thursday, Feb. 21. The event begins at noon in the Old Main Colloquium Room. 

• Mona-Ivy Soto, assistant professor of childhood/early childhood education, will address “Disrupting the Cradle of Prisons Pipeline: Understanding Systems and Advocating for Social Change” on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The sandwich seminar starts at 12:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.

• Susan Rayl, an associate professor of kinesiology, will discuss “Milton Gray Campbell: From Unknown to Decathlete Athlete of the Century,” on Thursday, Feb. 28. The sandwich seminar will be held at noon in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.

In the U.S., Black History Month commenced in 1926 when its founder, 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. The Africana Studies Department has organized BHM events for the College since the late 1970s, working in recent years with other campus organizations. This year’s key collaborators with Africana Studies include NeoVox, the CICC, Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies (CGIS), PASA and the BSU.  

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, BSU, Political Science Department, the Africana Studies Department, CGIS, CICC and NeoVox.

For more information about Black History Month, contact Asumah at 607-753-2064, or in Old Main, Room 208-B.