UIS will be celebrating Black History Month for the entirety of February, dedicated the month to celebrating African American culture, achievements, and history.
While celebrating February as Black History Month has its roots in the 1920s, UIS began celebrating it in 1973 as Black Awareness Week. Since then, the commemoration continually grows in scale as student organizations, such as the Black Student Union, create new events. This year, the theme of the celebration is “Black is Beautiful, Black is Powerful, Black is Confident and Black is Resilient.”
The first events of the month took place on February 1 at the Student Union, with a candlelight vigil and a performance by Step Afrika!, one of the top ten African American dance companies in the United States. On Feb. 6, Britney Black Rose Kapri, the author of the book Black Queer Hoe, will be performing a poetry reading in the Osborne Lounge. On Feb. 8, a screening of Springfield Had No Shame: The Springfield Race Riot of 1908 and a discussion panel featuring the president of NAACP Springfield and Illinois Chapters will both be held as part of the ECCE: Speaker Series.
The Black Male Collegiate Society will hold their induction ceremony on Feb. 10. On February 12, the Know Your Heritage Bowl -a trivia contest focusing on important African American people, inventions, and legislations -will be held in the Student Union Ballroom. The High School- College Mixer and a screening of the film, Corn bread, Earl, and Me, will be held on February 15. On February 17, the Soul Food Festival will be held in the lower level of the Public Affairs Center (PAC). On February 18, there will be a screening in the Student Union Ballroom of Stranger Fruit, a documentary on the 2014 death of Michael Brown.
On February 19, Roberto Rincón will speak on black racial identification among Afro-Mexicans in Winston- Salem, North Carolina in PAC C/D. On February 20, Jay-Marie Hill will hold a lecture/performance as part of the event entitled “Building your Trans Ally Toolkit or Beyond Black Trans Death & Doom.” On Friday, February 22, the Diversity Center will hold the event, “Hair story,” a panel discussion on the importance of hair in the black community. The Ebony Ball will be held the next evening on Saturday, February 23, and Gospel Karaoke will be held that Sunday, February 24. The closing ceremony for Black History Month will be held on February 28.
“For me, Black History Month is knowing your past shows you can shape the future correctly,” said Justin Rose, director of diversity and inclusion at the Diversity Center.
“Black History Month is a time for education -you learn about those little-known facts that you would not know normally, and it’s a time of celebration,” said Samaryia Magee, the Necessary Steps program advisor.