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UW-Eau Claire to celebrate Black History Month throughout February

| Denise Olson

At UW-Eau Claire this coming week, February brings not only the return of students to campus for the spring semester but also the celebration of Black History Month. A wide variety of campus events meant to entertain, honor and educate will reflect the richness of black culture and history, and recognize the many accomplishments and contributions of African Americans here on campus and beyond. 

Campus leadership in the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the staff and students representing the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), and student organizations have worked hard to create a diverse slate of events and activities for the 2020 Black History Month calendar. 

Michael THomas, OMA staff

Michael Thomas, student services coordinator, Office of Multicultural Affairs

Once again this year, Michael Thomas, student services coordinator for OMA, is looking forward to presenting the rich cultural and historical experiences the events will provide attendees. 

"UWEC Black History Month is an important opportunity for our campus community to celebrate the immeasurable and indelible contributions that black people have made and continue to make to our country," Thomas said. "The list of Black History Month activities seek to inform UWEC community members about the culture, history and achievements of black people. Through collaboration and partnerships across campus, these events not only advance programs and services that positively impact the UWEC black student experience but also strengthens our broader campuswide EDI efforts." 

Thomas and other campus leaders rely heavily on student input and participation to develop a series of Black History Month events that accomplish the goals of honoring, enlightening and educating the community. One such student coordinator is Salem Adkins, a senior marketing major from Stillwater, Minnesota, who looks forward to the month, particularly the Harambee celebration and the hair and skin care product drive, which will provide products specific to black skin and hair to parents and caregivers of black area children, children she also hopes are able to attend events and celebrate history. 

"I think this month is especially important for young children. In America, every month is white history month. Black children need to know and celebrate their history as well," Adkins said. 

Senior international business major Iman Dikko, an international student from Abuja, Nigeria, has been helping to plan events as well and greatly looks forward to these unique opportunities to share black culture and aspects of history too often overlooked. 

"I think it’s important to celebrate because it helps educate those who wouldn’t otherwise know much about black culture to learn the contributions we have made and teaches the younger generation to be proud of themselves and grow up to be great," Dikko said. 

In addition to the events listed below, the musical influence of black artists will be highlighted daily on Converge Radio (99.9 FM) and on with a “song of the day” feature, selections chosen and introduced by Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, professor of history, at 7:45 a.m. weekdays and at multiples times throughout the day on Saturdays and Sundays. Station manager Scott Morfitt says that he looks forward to hearing the song selections, as Ducksworth-Lawton "has spent the last year building her playlist."

Several units across campus have partnered in sponsoring the slate of events, including the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Black Student Alliance.

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
Feb. 5, 5 p.m.
Schofi­eld Auditorium

As the kickoff­ to Black History Month, this program will engage the audience in a communal celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an evening that will include a performance by MADDDRAMA of Jackson State University, recognition of the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award recipient and a keynote delivered by Dr. Warren Anderson, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion. This event is sponsored by the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Aff­airs, the Office of Multicultural Aff­airs and the Black Student Alliance. View related story.

Black/Multicultural Hair and Skin-Care Drive
Feb. 1-29
Office of Multicultural Affairs, Centennial Hall 1108, 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The Black Student Alliance and the African Student Association will conduct a monthlong donation drive to collect black/multicultural hair and skin products. Meeting the culturally specific hair and skin needs for adopted or foster youth in the area is important and these items will help families and caregivers to access necessary products and resources. Only new and unopened products can be accepted.

Black Organization Showcase
Feb. 7, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 
Centennial Hall 1931 

The Office of Multicultural Affairs invites you to the Black Organization Showcase, a program highlighting UW-Eau Claire's black student-serving organizations. Come out to learn about exciting programs the groups are planning, as well as ways to get involved.

Black History Month Trivia
Feb. 10, 7 p.m. 
Centennial Hall 1931 

Come by to test your knowledge of achievements and historic moments in black history, culture and traditions. 

Barbershop Talk
Feb. 11, noon-3 p.m.
Centennial Hall 1931

This afternoon of free haircuts and important conversation over societal issues, politics, values and life morals will rejuvenate and empower. Sponsored by the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Affairs and of the Office of Multicultural

Blugold Dialogue: Conversation Around Race in Predominantly White Institutions
Feb. 13, 4 p.m.
Centennial Hall 1704

This dialogue aims to unpack how institutional conversations and inaction within predominantly white institutions of higher  education perpetuate the actual silence of racial dialogues they purport to advance. This discussion is intended to move institutional actors from notions of tacit verbalism to stentorian motives of praxis.

Film: 'Black Girl in Suburbia'
Feb. 17, 6 p.m.
Woodland Theater, Davies Center 

This documentary film examines the experiences of black girls growing up in predominantly white communities. For many black girls raised in the suburbs, the experiences of going to school, playing on the playground and living day-to-day life can be uniquely alienating. “Black Girl in Suburbia” looks at the suburbs of America from the perspective of women of color. Director Melissa Lowery is a mother of two young girls in the Portland, Oregon, area, and currently serves as the director for diversity and inclusion at Jesuit High School in Portland. 

Harambee (Black History Month Celebration)
Feb. 20, 5 p.m. 
Ojibwe Ballroom, Davies Center 

Join us for a dynamic program to celebrate Black History Month, which will include musical performances and recognition of special contributions and accomplishments of students, faculty and staff. Dinner and event program sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the African Student Association and the Black Student Alliance. 

All Black Everything (Wear all black in solidarity with the Black Student Alliance)
Leaders Igniting Transformation: the Future is Young, Black, Brown and Lit
Feb. 24, 7 p.m.
Centennial Hall 1931 

Join us to learn about black history within the UW System and the power of black thought leaders in the state. 

Special Forum Event: Ibram X. Kendi: 'How to be an Antiracist'
Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m. 
Schofield Auditorium

Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices. His deeply personal and empowering lecture, "How to Be an Antiracist," aims to help audiences actively trying to understand racism in new ways, with open minds and from new perspectives. Kendi offers concrete ways for individuals and institutions to create an antiracist community. Tickets available online and at the Service Center. View related story.

The official sponsors of UW-Eau Claire's Black History Month are the Division for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Black Student Alliance.

Photo caption: The 2019 Harambee celebration included the opportunity for attendees to learn traditional African dance.