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Black History Month Observance and Activities Begin Friday at A-State


JONESBORO -- The year 2013 marks the anniversary of three important events in history: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that killed four young girls. The National Black History Month theme, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality,” reflects these milestones.

Black History Month is celebrated nationwide in February with programs and events that not only commemorate the past, but also honor the continuous progress that African Americans have made, according to Niya Blair, director of the Multicultural Center at Arkansas State University.

Black History Month originated in February 1926 when Carter G. Woodson, the father of black history, established Negro History Week. He and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) chose the second week of February because it encompasses the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, notable figures in the African American community. Instead of trying to create a new tradition, Woodson implored the public to extend their study of black history through Negro History Week. In the late 1970s, the week-long celebration was expanded to a month.

Arkansas State University celebrates Black History Month with a series of events and programs geared toward the past, present, and future success of African Americans, Blair added. The scheduled events are:

  • The month-long celebration begins Friday, Feb. 1, with a showing of the movie “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 film. The movie stars Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in her final feature film role before her death. Movie times are 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Reng Student Union Auditorium.

  • Beginning Monday, Feb. 4, and concluding March 1 is the Kevin Cole Art Exhibit: “And the Band Played On.” Celebrating 25 years of artistry, Cole’s art has been shown throughout the country. Exhibit hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday in the Multicultural Center, room 3003 of the Student Union.

  • The ASU Museum celebrates Black History Month as part of its cultural diversity series on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 5-7 p.m. The evening will begin with “Art as Resistance: The History and Significance of African American Quilts” by Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, associate professor of history at ASU. This presentation will be held in the Museum auditorium, room 182. Later that evening, visitors may learn how it felt to stay one step ahead of slave catchers at the “Underground Railroad Experience” in the museum’s main gallery. For more information, contact the ASU Museum at 870-972-2074.

  • The Strong-Turner Alumni Chapter, in conjunction with the Multicultural Center, hosts its annual Soul Food dinner Thursday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the ASU Military Science Building (formerly known as the Armory). This event celebrates a tradition when African Americans come together around the dinner table to reminisce and fellowship.

  • On Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 12 noon, the Multicultural Center will present “Who is Kevin Cole?” Garbo Hearne, director of the Hearne Fine Arts Gallery, will educate the audience on Kevin Cole and his relevance as an artist.

  • World-class singer, guitarist, and songwriter Allan Harris will perform in the Fowler Center Series on Friday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m. The Allan Harris band plays music that includes jazz, rock, and blues. For tickets, contact Fowler Center at (870) 972-2781.

  • On Monday, Feb. 18, the Multicultural Center presents “A Tribute to Black History Month” with T.J. Holmes, former CNN news anchor and BET’s host of “Don’t Sleep.” An Arkansas native, Holmes will discuss his personal success with freedom and equality and what this means in today’s society. The event will be at 6 p.m. in the Reng Student Union Centennial Hall.

  • The Black Student Association at ASU will host its annual BSA Week. Events include Black History Jeopardy in the Student Union Multicultural Center on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 5 p.m. Also, BSA’s All Black Affair will be held Friday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall. This is a semi-formal gala where students, faculty, and the community enjoy an evening of fine dining and music dressed in all black attire. For more information about BSA Week contact LaTasha Moore at Latasha.moore@smail.astate.edu.

  • On Monday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. is National Pan-Hellenic Council Best Steppers. This is a step show where members of historically black Greek-letter organizations perform routines of step and dance for the title of “Best Steppers” on campus. The event will be held at the Nettleton Performing Arts Center. The cost is $5 with a canned good or $7 without. For details, more information please contact Alexis Hurdle at (870) 972-2055.

  • The Black History Month celebration concludes with the Multicultural Center’s annual Gospel Explosion on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall. This celebration pays homage to gospel music and the significance it played in history.

For a complete list of events during Black History Month please visit the Multicultural Center website, http://www.astate.edu/a/leadership-center/multicultural-center/ or call 870-680-4052.

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