Mel Rising Dawn Cordeiro
February is the month set aside for celebrating Black History Month. It’s precursor, Negro History Week, was created by historian Cater G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History,” in February of 1926. His organization, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the Association for the Study of African Life and History, aided in establishing the field of African American studies. Woodson’s goal was to get everyone of every ethnic and social background to talk about the experiences of African American people.
Woodson originally chose the month of February for the week-long celebration due to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, social reformer and abolitionist, respectively. Both Lincoln and Douglass played significant roles in the ending of slavery. African American communities also recognized these men, so Woodson worked to build on what was already in place as opposed to creating a new tradition.
It wasn’t until the 1960s and the civil rights movement that Negro History Week really became a popular celebration. This time period even saw the first celebrations on college campuses. 1976 saw the recognition of Black History month by then-President Gerald Ford. All of his predecessors have also recognized this celebration. In 1986, “National Black History Month” was passed into law by Congress, making it formally observable.
The original intention was to teach children and young adults about the contributions of African Americans to society as a way to preserve the national narrative. Nowadays, it is a celebration of those African Americans who have impacted the country through achievements, activism and other contributions. We celebrate the accomplishments of leaders and go beyond the discussion of racism and slavery.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Black Resistance,” celebrating Black resistance, both historically speaking and ongoing. This theme pays homage to the civil rights movement, the walk outs, the resistance to racial terrorism and the Black struggle for survival. Also recognized are the Black faith institutions, the heart of resistance movements, as well as the artists, writers and others who have contributed to the rich culture and heritage of African Americans.
Here at RIC, the college has a very diverse student body as well as a diverse faculty and staff. RIC’s campus community can boast many achievements and accomplishments. In continuing this celebration, RIC has a number of events planned throughout the month of February:
“Ball in the House” R&B/Soul/Pop acapella group, performs on Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.
Ashlee Haze, spoken word and poet, performs on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.
“Motherland’s Finest” will have a dance performance on Feb. 8 at 12:30 p.m. in the Donovan Dining Center.
“Wildin’ Out” improv comedy show on Feb. 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Student Union Cafe.
“Dimensions of art and identity: The life and work of Nancy Elizabth Prophet,” exhibit from Feb. 17 through April 7 at the Adams Library Level 3, all day.
“Moonlight” movie screening and discussion on Feb. 17 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Gage 100.
Harambee Flag Party on Feb. 17 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.
A presentation by speaker Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, J.D., executive director at the Economic Progress Institute on Feb. 22 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Alger 100.
Black Alumni and Cultural Night on Feb. 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.
For additional information on these events can be found here. Student organizations who have a Black History Month event they would like to promote are encouraged to send their event information to Carrie Miller of the Communications and Marketing team at firstname.lastname@example.org.