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Black History Month at CU

By James Trent
On February 1, 2018

MLK Men's Chorus will visit Concord in honor of Black History Month.
Photo Courtesy of Charleston Gazette

As Black History Month begins, Concord plans to celebrate black history with four key events throughout February. 
Black History Month was originally started in 1926 as “Negro History Week” in the second week of February. Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian from Harvard and his group, known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), chose that week because it contains both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas’ birthdays, two important figures in African American history. notes that “The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures. In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.”
President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month when, in 1976, he told the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” 
On Feb. 8, students can go to the Fine Arts Center to enjoy the Martin Luther King Jr. male chorus singing traditional and contemporary African American gospel songs. The chorus is composed of 44 male singers, and the event begins at 7 p.m. in the main theater. 
On Feb. 12, the Student Center will be screening “Selma” for free on the Subway stage. Directed by Ava DuVernay, “Selma” tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., played by David Oyelowo, as he marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 to secure equal voting rights. Originally released in 2014, “Selma” received many 2015 awards, including the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture, and the BET Award for Best Movie. The film will be shown at 8 p.m. for all students to attend. 
On Feb. 22, students can attend a production of “The Passing of Pearl” in the Fine Arts theater. The play deals with three women who work in a Memphis diner and have seen the racial struggles and social change in the south since the 1960s. One of the women, Pearl, passes away, and the other two women “struggle to deal with life after the Diner.” The play will be presented at 7 p.m. in the main theater, and all students are welcome to attend free of charge.
To finish the month, a group panel discussion will be held on Feb. 27 about contemporary problems such as social justice and inequality in the Student Center state room. Panelists include the following: Dr. Diane Smith Gyrch, an Education professor specializing in developmental psychology and multicultural education; Dr. Roderick Neal, a Psychology professor; Dr. Shimantini Shome, a Geology professor and sponsor of Concord’s Gender and Minority Equality Club; and finally student Brahim Laadhar. 
Director of Multicultural Affairs Nancy Ellison states, “Every February the celebration of Black History Month provides us with the opportunity to reflect and honor the many contributions of African Americans to our nation’s history. It is also a chance to recommit ourselves to continuing to make equal rights and equal opportunities available to all,” as documented by the official media release. Concord University’s lineup of events to celebrate African American culture will be a unique experience for students to engage with and honor African American history this February. 

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