SUNY Cortland will celebrate Black History Month (BHM) throughout February with a series of events including historical and cultural lectures, readings, a SUNY Cortland Gospel Choir Multicultural Festival, a performance of African dance and drums, a film screening and a music festival featuring professional rapper CJ Fly.
“Carter C. Woodson, the founder of Black History Month, might be kicking in his grave if he could observe the confusing state of progress, disquietude and oleaginous statements of race relations in recent history of America,” said BHM organizer Seth N. Asumah, Africana Studies Department chair and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of political science.
“Our collective experiences, cultures, precepts, norms and intellectual inquiry into the black world are presented on different platforms and avenues for finding answers to critical issues facing our country and academia," Asumah said. "Black is America’s history and the synergism and collaborative spirit associated with SUNY Cortland’s Black History Month events are indicative of the global human condition and what SUNY Cortland stands for.”
Highlights will include:
Ruth E. Carter, whose costume design work on the futuristic comic book film “Black Panther,” earned her a third Oscar nomination earlier this month, will speak about her career on Friday, Feb. 1, in Old Main Brown Auditorium. Carter has been a pioneer in Hollywood costume design for three decades. Her most recently recognized costume design work merged traditional African clothing design with the technologically-advanced fictional nation of Wakanda in the Hollywood blockbuster hit “Black Panther.” She previously was the first black nominee for an Academy Award in costume design for her work on “Malcolm X” in 1993. Carter was nominated again for “Amistad” in 1998. “An Evening with Ruth Carter” begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow her talk. For more information, contact student Sophia Hall. The event is sponsored by SUNY Cortland Student Activity Board (SAB).
CJ Fly will promote interest in WSUC-FM, the College radio station, during the Fire Mic music festival Friday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m. in the Van Hoesen Hall, Tomik Fitness Facility, nearby the station studio. In addition to performances by him and assorted campus musicians, CJ Fly will hold a developmental workshop for students. Also known as Chaine Downer Jr., born in 1993, CJ Fly is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York City. He is a founding and the oldest member of the hip-hop collective group Pro Era. Throughout 2012 and 2013, he was featured on many of the collective's projects and towards the end of 2013, he released his critically acclaimed mixtape “Thee Way Eye See It.” For more information, contact student Chris Venant. The event is sponsored by WSUC 90.5 FM.
Lawrence Ross, a bestselling author, filmmaker and lecturer, will give an entertaining, educational and thought-provoking lecture titled “Know Better/Do Better” Tuesday, Feb. 12. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a lifelong entrepreneur, Ross explores the difficult topic of race and racism in an engaging and direct way. Based upon his bestselling book, Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race and Racism on America’s Campuses, he challenges attendees to think critically about the ways that race and racism affect the College Experience today and how both individuals and groups can challenge racism in every day circumstances. The program will be at 5 p.m. in Old Main Brown Auditorium. For more information, contact James Felton III, SUNY Cortland’s chief diversity officer, and Asumah. The event is sponsored by the Know Your Roots-Africana Studies Association, Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office, Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, and the Africana Studies Department.
Black History Month Events at a Glance
Susan Rayl, an associate professor of kinesiology and Africana studies at SUNY Cortland, will give a lecture on the life of Kamara Latoya James, a 2004 fencing bronze medal Olympian who struggled with mental illness, on Thursday, Feb. 7. James died in her Modesto, Calif., apartment in 2014 at age 29. The talk, “Schizophrenia and Elite Athletes: the Struggles of Kamara James,” begins at noon in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Asumah.
A panel of speakers from the College’s History Department will address a recent question raised by rapper and celebrity Kanye West. “Was Slavery a Choice? Historians Answer Kanye West,” on Thursday, Feb. 7. The talk begins at 5 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Associate Professor Evan Faulkenbury. The event is presented by the History Department.
Author and speaker Carlos J. Malave ’11 will give a talk on “Restorative Power” Thursday, Feb. 7. The SUNY Cortland was a star high school basketball player, but found himself struggling in the classroom. He learned how to uncover what made him a successful athlete and translate that into gains in academics and his personal life. He is the author of the 2017 book, Translating Your Success: The Student Guide to Transforming Your Small Wins Into Big Wins. The lecture will be at 6:30 p.m. in Corey Union Exhibition Lounge. For more information, contact Lima Stafford, assistant director of multicultural life and diversity. The event is hosted by Men of Value and Excellence (MOVE) and the Student Government Association (SGA).
The Campus Climate on Diversity Committee will conduct “A Conversation on Race at SUNY Cortland” Monday, Feb. 11. The event begins at 5 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 304. For more information, contact James Felton III, SUNY Cortland’s chief diversity officer. The event is hosted by the Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office And Campus Climate Committee.
SUNY Cortland Performing Arts Department faculty members Edward Moore and Lois Pfister will offer a presentation on “Music of African American Composers” on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Their talk will begin at 12:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Asumah.
Members of the Education Club and Cortland Urban Recruitment of Educators will conduct an “African American Read-In” Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in Sperry Center, Room 105. For more information, contact Charlotte Pass, SUNY Cortland associate professor of literacy.
Danica Savonich, an assistant professor in the College’s English Department, will speak on “Inclusive and Student-Centered Pedagogy” Thursday, Feb. 14. Her talk begins at noon in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Asumah. The event is supported by the English and Africana Studies departments.
SUNY Cortland alumna Tara Gourdine Jennings ’06 M ’08, principal at Thomas J. Corcoran High School in Syracuse, N.Y., will speak on “Spotlighting Cortland’s Black Success Story” Thursday, Feb. 14. A Magna Cum Laude graduate in 2006 with a degree in adolescent education: mathematics, she earned a master’s degree in the same discipline two years later. She joined Corcoran in 2013 as an assistant principal. Presented by the Know Your Roots-Africana Studies Association, the event starts at 7 p.m. in Old Main Colloquium. For more information, contact student Kevin Robinson.
The Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and Women of Color will present the “Miss Kortland: Emerging Empowerment Showcase” on Friday, Feb. 15. The showcase will take place at 7 p.m. in Old Main Brown Auditorium. For more information, contact Venant.
The SUNY Cortland Gospel Choir will host a Multicultural Festival at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, in Old Main Brown Auditorium. For more information, contact Stafford. The event is sponsored by the Africana Studies and SUNY Cortland Gospel Choir.
Joe Heath, the general counsel for the Onondaga Nation since 1982, will discuss “The Attica Prison Uprising: Lessons on White Supremacy.” Heath, an attorney since 1975, will give his presentation at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in Old Main Colloquium. For more information, contact Collen Kattau, a SUNY Cortland associate professor of modern languages. The event is supported by the Modern Languages Department.
Alice Nudoa Luo will give a presentation “Food for the Soul Isn’t Always Food for the Body: The Unhealthy Eating Habits of the Black Community” on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Her talk will begin at 12:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Asumah. The event is hosted by the Africana Studies and English departments.
Brian Williams, a SUNY Cortland assistant professor of political science, will speak on “Electoral Connection in the Kenyan National Assembly.” In his talk, he will assess the relationship between Kenyan National Assembly electoral districts and Assembly Member legislative activities. Williams’ lecture will start at noon Thursday, Feb. 21, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Asumah. The event is presented by the Political Science and Africana Studies departments.
Richard Harris, a lecturer in the College’s Africana Studies Department, will talk about “The Delta Blues: The Development and Effects on American Culture.” His presentation will open at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Asumah. The event is hosted by the Africana Studies Department.
The Know Your Roots-Africana Studies Association will screen “Hidden Colors: A Film” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in Sperry Center, Room 106. “Hidden Colors” is the name of an ongoing documentary film series directed by Tariq Nasheed and produced through King Flex Entertainment, to explain and describe the marginalizing of African Americans in America and the world. For more information, contact Robinson.
The Baltimore-based Nazu African Dance Company will offer traditional and contemporary forms of West African dance and drumming on Saturday, Feb. 23. The dance and drumming ensemble, which uses its performances as a vehicle for cultural expression and a medium for personal healing, will begin at 7 p.m. in Old Main Brown Auditorium. Presented by the College’s Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS), admission to the performance is $3 for all students and free to all children 10 and under. General admission is $10 with a senior citizen discount price of $8 for individuals age 60 and older. Tickets may be obtained through the Campus Activities and Corey Union Office, Corey Union Room 406, or at the door one hour prior to the performance. All performances are general admission seating. For more information, call 607-753-5574 or contact Sandra Wohlleber.
Victoria McNeil, a doctoral student and instructor in counseling psychology at the University of Florida, will discuss “I AM ENOUGH: Racism-Related Stress, Self- Esteem and Racial Identity in the #blackgirlmagic Era.” McNeil has focused her scholarship on health psychology and health disparities, minority mental health advocacy and trauma and its impact on transgenerational minority identity. The lecture begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 26, in Old Main Brown Auditorium. For more information, contact department chair and Distinguished Service Professor Bonni Hodges. Sponsored by the Health Department, the event is the department’s annual Poskanzer Lecture.
Paula Barba Guerrero, a visiting researcher from University of Salamanca, Spain, will address “Cartographies of Historical Trauma: Hospitable Spaces in African American Literature” at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb 27, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Mary Schlarb, director of international programs. The event is hosted by the Africana Studies Department and International Programs.
Jack Carr, a SUNY Cortland lecturer in communication and media studies, will give a talk on “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish: Cultural (Mis)appropriation in the Age of Trump.” The presentation will start at noon on Thursday, Feb. 28, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contact Asumah. The event is sponsored by the Africana Studies and Communication Studies departments.
Speakers representing the Know Your Roots-Africana Studies Association will discuss “Afro-Essence: Redefining Afro-naissance and Excellence in Blackademia.” The talk will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. For more information, contactRobinson. The event is presented by the Know Your Roots and Africana Studies Department.
The Africana Studies Department has organized BHM events for the College since the late 1970s. Additional Black History Month event sponsors include the President’s Office, Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office, the Health, Political Science and History departments, Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies, Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, Campus Artist and Lecture Series, SGA, SAB, Know Your Roots-Africana Studies Association, SUNY Cortland NAACP, Black Student Union, MOVE, and Pan African Student Association.
For more information or questions about Black History Month, contact Asumah at 607-753-2064 or in Old Main, Room 208-B.