Black History Month set to a new theme

By Bethany Gallimore
On February 10, 2014

The national Black History Month theme is Civil Rights in America in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Students can learn about African American culture, cuisine and creativity through A-State’s celebration of Black History Month.

The activities of Black History Month are coordinated through the Multicultural Center, which encourages the appreciation of diversity throughout the university.

“On any college campus it’s about learning about others, appreciating others and celebrating the accomplishments other people make that contribute to the success of all of us,” said Niya Blair, director of the Multicultural Center. “We want (students) to learn, to celebrate and to grow.”

“I think Black History Month is important because it is a part of our country’s history. Everyone in some capacity is benefiting from an African American inventor, politician or statesman,” said Jerrod Lockhart of Student Support Services, and faculty representative for the Black Student Association. “It’s not just about African American history, it’s about our country’s history.”

Ernest Green, a member of the original Little Rock Nine, will deliver a presentation at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Centennial Hall.

Green, formerly a managing director of public finance for Lehmen Brothers in Washington, D.C., will speak about how the experience of attending Little Rock High School as one of its first black students shaped his life, goals and career.

“Being that we grew up in the 90s era, we had things laid out for us to some extent. So we don’t understand the struggle of where we came from, and I think this is a very humbling experience for us,” said Nick Clark, senior public relations and sociology major of St. Louis, Mo. and acting president of the Black Student Association.

A photography session and reception will follow the presentation, which is sponsored by the the Multicultural Center, Office of Diversity Initiatives, College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Business.

At noon on Wednesday, the Multicultural Center will host Cultural Conversations, an open discussion on black men in America.

“We have Cultural Conversations every semester two or three times a semester,” Blair said. “The February event is focused on black men in America, and we’ll be talking about the successes and the challenges that face black men.”

Thursday the Strong-Turner Alumni Association will host the annual Soul Food Dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the Military Science Building. The free event will include a traditional African American dinner and a sponsored keynote speaker explaining the history, origins and importance of cultural food.

“Soul Food is a big part of culture in the black community,” Clark said.

“This is an opportunity to educate the campus community about the African American cuisine,” Lockhart said. “It’s a really great time to fellowship and the turnout is amazing.”

Students and community members will enjoy fares such as black-eyed peas, cornbread and vinegar tea.

“You’ll get a taste of everything. It’s really delicious food,” Lockhart said.

The Strong-Turner Alumni Association was originally founded by the first two black graduates of A-State, Walter Strong and Fred Turner.

The Miss Essence scholarship pageant will also be held that evening at 7 p.m. in the Fowler Center. Nine A-State women will compete for the crown through a series of interviews, showcases and contests.

“It is designed to provide young women with opportunities to gain interviewing skills, gain self-esteem and network with members of the A-State community,” Lockhart said. “We’ve already been working on rehearsals, musical numbers and creative costumes. It’s going to be a really great evening.”

The theme for the pageant is mind, body and spirit.

“We’re basically highlighting the three things that we think makes a beauty,” Clark said. “It’s something we’re very proud of, and it’s something we’re very excited about.”

Also on Thursday there will be an African Fashion Show & Taste of Culture, held in the A-State Pavilion at 6 p.m.

On Feb. 20 the Multicultural Center will host a panel discussion, “Exploring the Civil Rights Act” at noon.

“It’s a lecture series with four faculty members talking about the Civil Rights Act then, and then what the implications are now, how things have changed and what does the Civil Rights Act look like 50 years from now,” Blair said. “That will be a great discussion.”

Events of A-State’s Black History Month will conclude Feb. 22 with The Kenyan Boys & Moipei Quarter performance 7:30 p.m. in the Fowler Center. For tickets, contact the Fowler Center at 870-972-2781.


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