The month of February brings a robust schedule of events to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in celebration of Black History Month, a month of national recognition designated by every U.S. president since 1976.
The Black History Month calendar kicks off with the annual campus celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Feb. 7 and concludes Feb. 28 with a newly reimagined and interactive multimedia final event titled “Black Essence.” Other events include a film screening, art exhibits, music performances, community speakers and various area vendors.
Blugold alumnus Anthony Wallace '22, is a student services coordinator in Multicultural Student Services and has served as a team lead in brainstorming, designing and organizing much of the programming for Black History Month.
“It's very exciting to celebrate Black History Month in person and on campus again,” Wallace says. “We wanted to create a program that retained the spirit of the celebrations hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs before COVID, but also to find ways of acknowledging Black femininity, Black gender expression and Black art, and promote cross-cultural interaction more prominently in our events.”
Moreover, Wallace adds, the 2023 slate of events is the product of extensive collaboration across campus he has been pleased to develop.
“As a staff person new to campus last fall, it's been exhilarating to work with units like Event Services, our colleagues in music and theatre arts, art & design, the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program and the Special Collections curators in McIntyre Library. That’s just some of the many collaborators we worked with to create a meaningful Black History Month experience fueled by UWEC and community involvement.”
Longtime faculty member and campus leader in equity, diversity and inclusion, Dr. Rose-Marie Avin has served on the BHM planning committee, helping to craft an event slate that is both a reminder and a celebration.
“I am looking forward to this celebration of Black History Month because it is an important time to celebrate while also reflecting on the community’s struggles for freedom and justice for Black Americans,” says Avin, professor of economics and director of the WGSS program. “This list of 2023 events also features a lot of joy and hope.”
Black History Month event schedule
Feb. 7: 6th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
(Free and open to the community)
Already a signature campus event after only five years, the always moving and enlightening campus celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is set for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in Schofield Auditorium.
This celebration will include a keynote address by Dr. Tia Simone Gardner, a Black feminist scholar and assistant professor of media and cultural studies at Macalester College in St. Paul. The evening will also include a panel discussion among Black UW-Eau Claire faculty members, congregational style music and other performances led by Dr. Frank Watkins, associate professor and choral director at UW-Eau Claire. Another highlight is the presentation of the 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Leadership Award to Dr. Heather Ann Moody, associate professor and program director for American Indian studies.
Feb. 11: “The Black Experience”
(Free and open to the community)
The Blugold Black Student Alliance (BSA) presents “The Black Experience” Saturday, Feb. 11, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Dakota Ballroom of Davies Center. BSA hopes to uplift Black students at UW-Eau Claire and give our community the experience of Black excellence. In its second year, the event brings unique vendors, cultural expression and delicious food together to provide the UW-Eau Claire community a unique experience of Black identity.
Feb. 13: Black Essence Art Gallery and film screening of “Ndani Eau Claire” at UW-Eau Claire –Barron County
The UW-Eau Claire – Barron County campus will host a BHM event this year, open to the campus and community. The event is from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13. The Blue Hills Lecture Hall will host a gallery exhibit showcasing visual art from talented Black UW System students and a screening of the film “Ndani Eau Claire,” a documentary created by UW-Eau Claire alumnus Olu Famule exploring the experience of African international students. View the film trailer at Famule’s website.
Feb 17: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” screening, panel discussion and dinner
(Free for campus members only)
UW-Eau Claire’s Multicultural Student Services hosts this screening of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in collaboration with the University Activity Commission's Campus Films Series. The screening will be preceded by an educational event involving a dinner, faculty panel and trivia game with prizes; MSS will sponsor food provided by "Taste of Jamaica" out of Wausau.
Attendees will be joined by a faculty panel to explore the film's themes, influences and meanings to enrich our community's understanding of indigeneity, colonialism and more. Panel members are:
- Dr. Kati Barahona-López, assistant professor of sociology.
- Dr. Sarita Mizin, assistant professor of English.
- Dr. Heather Ann Moody, associate professor and program director for American Indian Studies.
Dinner and panel from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Ho-Chunk Room of Davies Center, followed by film screening from 6-9 p.m. in the Woodland Theater.
Feb. 22: Rescheduled Special Forum event with Jelani Cobb: “The Half-Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today”
- (Free in person or virtual, open to the community)
UW-Eau Claire is happy to welcome Jelani Cobb for a rescheduled date of his special combined presentation of The Forum series, "Racing Toward Justice" series and the annual Martin Mogensen Education Lecture. Cobb’s visit also is co-sponsored by the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies.
Cobb’s presentation is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the Ojibwe Ballroom of Davies Center.
Cobb, a longtime staff writer for The New Yorker and dean of the Columbia Journalism School, is one of the nation’s preeminent voices on the intersections of race, history, politics and culture in America. He is a frequent contributor and commentator on CBS News, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN, National Public Radio and more.
This special event is free of charge but reservations are required via UW-Eau Claire ticketing for both in-person and virtual attendance.
Feb. 28: BHM closing event: “Black Essence”
(Open to the community)
“Black Essence” is an immersive event experience hosted by Multicultural Student Services from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the Ojibwe Ballroom of Davies Center. The event will center on Black creative expression and challenge the Eau Claire community's understanding of Black culture, Black history, Black gender expression and more. Eau Claire’s own DJ Moses Samike of the band Irie Sol will perform, along with spoken-word artists Diamond Forde and Nabila Lovelace, and the Chippewa Valley cover band, Uncommon Denominator.
The spoken-word artists are editors of the literary magazine “Honey Literary,” co-founded by Dr. Dorothy Chan, an assistant professor of English at UW-Eau Claire who has helped Wallace round out the list of guests for the event with these nationally recognized writers and spoken-word artists.
“I am extremely honored to collaborate on the Black Essence event with Anthony Wallace,” Chan says.
“'Honey Literary’ will have its own table at the event, and more importantly, editors Nabila Lovelace and Diamond Forde will be our distinguished guests! These game-changers in the field of poetry will be reading and performing poetry at our event, and we are so thrilled.”
Tickets for this multimodal event experience are on sale through Blugold Ticketing beginning Feb. 1. Costs for food, arts, entertainment and cultural education are $10 for college students and those under 18 and $20 for adult community members.
For more information about any of the Black History Month events, contact the Multicultural Student Services office or Anthony Wallace.