GREATER SPRINGFIELD – February is African American History Month. According to africanamericanhistory.gov, the month-long celebration of African American heritage and history began in 1925 as “Negro History Week” by historian Carter Woodson as a way to “raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization.”
The first week-long celebration took place during a week in the month of February that aligned with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The week-long celebration lasted for about 50 years until it was turned into African American History Month in 1975.
Here are some ways you can celebrate and learn more about African American history during the month of February:
Afro Renaissance will present an open mic poetry event at Smokey Joe’s in Springfield. Spoken word artists such as Tai Allen, Ashley Rose, Jamaal St. John and Lyaba Mandingo will perform. The event will also include an opportunity for guests to take the microphone as well. The event begins at 8 p.m. on Feb. 29 at 395 Dwight St. Tickets are $20 and can be bought online at www.paypal.com/webapps/shoppingcart?mfid=1580733653160_a86d3bc0d1de9&flowlogging_id=a86d3bc0d1de9#/checkout/shoppingCart
Black Wellness Dinner and Dialogue
American International College (AIC) Office of Diversity Education and P.R.I.D.E. and the Association of Black Business and Professionals will host a Dinner and Dialogue event. On Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. people are invited to attend the round table gathering about black health. The event will allow those in attendance to discuss ways to improve the health and wellness of the black community. The event will take place in the Schwartz Campus Center Auditorium on 1000 State St. in Springfield. The event is free and open to the public.
“Keeping the Arts Alive” gallery
Western New England University (WNEU) is celebrating Black History Month with a month-long art gallery called “Keeping the Arts Alive.” The program will feature artist and educator Don Banton. The program is currently open and will remain open until Feb. 27 to enjoy. It will also feature a gallery talk on Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. followed by an artist reception from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public. The program can viewed at the St. Germain Campus Center on 1215 Wilbraham Rd. in Springfield. Gallery hours can be found at www1.wne.edu/student-activities/st-germain-campus-center.cfm.
Black History Month events at Holyoke Community College (HCC)
On Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. a workshop led by Marie Troppe, HCC’s director of Transition to College and Careers program, will explore how 19th–century African American literature illuminates modern views on race. The event is free, open to the public and will take place in Frost 265 at the Center for Excellence.
- On Feb. 12 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Troppe will offer a workshop called “What’s the 19th Century Got to Do with Our Views on Race Today?” The same workshop will also be offered on Feb. 18 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both workshops will take place in the Center for Excellence at Frost 265 and are free and open to the public.
- On Feb. 13 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. HCC Community Night will be held at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton. The featured exhibit at the museum will be “Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem.” The event is free to HCC students, faculty and staff. Members of the public who wish to attend the exhibit with an HCC community member will be charged a $5 fee. Seniors will be charged $4.
- On Feb. 19 the 2004 documentary “Shirley Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed” will be screened in the Leslie Philips Theater, which is located on the second floor of the Fine and Performing Arts building. The documentary will be screened at 11 a.m. and is free and open to the public.
- On Feb. 27, HCC will host its final Black History Month Event with a Black Heritage Food Fest. The event will take place in the lobby outside of the Leslie Phillips Theater on the second floor of the Fine and Performing Arts building. The fest will feature food prepared by local chefs who specialize in southern, Creole, Cajun and other ethnic cuisine. Food is free for HCC students and employees, but a $5 donation is suggested for others who wish to attend. The donation will go toward the creation of a scholarship fund for an active member of the college’s Black Student Alliance.
Black History Month events at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC)
Springfield Technical Community College will celebrate Black History Month throughout February with a series of events on campus.
The events, which are open to the public, are free except for the Soul Food & Jazz Luncheon, which costs $5 for the general public and $2 for STCC students.
- Fallacies: Black Identity Extremist = Black Identity Enthusiast, Feb. 3-29, Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery: Kiayani Douglas has spent the last three years developing an interdisciplinary body of work called Black Identity Enthusiast. B.I.E. is a body of work geared toward curating conversations rooted in race history and privilege. She creates workshops where students of all disciplines can learn about American Black History, while making connections to math, science, history and literature. A series of student workshops and art faculty will be held throughout the month.
- Art Exhibit Opening & Artist Reception, Feb. 8, 6-8 p.m., Amy H. Carberry Art Gallery: Artist-in-residence Kiayani Douglas will appear for an evening celebration and reception. Refreshments will be served.
- Black History Month Information Table, Feb. 19, Student Learning Commons, Forum: Learn about the important contributions African American scientists and engineers have made to their fields and black history in Springfield. There will also be free giveaways and light refreshments.
- 15th Annual Soul Food & Jazz Luncheon, Feb. 19, noon, Scibelli Hall Gymnasium: This popular event features food and music by Rohn Lawrence & Friends to benefit the Myra D. Smith Scholarship fund. Tickets cost $5 or $2 for STCC students with ID.
- “Make it Count!” Voter Registration event, Feb. 26, 12:15 p.m., Student Learning Commons, Forum: This fun, informational event will have on-site voter registration, music and information on how you can make your vote count.
- Artist Talk & Closing Reception, Feb. 27, 10 a.m., Student Learning Commons, Forum: Come out and listen to artist-in-residence Kiayani Douglas as she discusses her exhibit “Fallacies of a Black Enthusiast.” Refreshments will be served.
- Movies That Matter Series, Student Learning Commons, Forum, 12:15 p.m.: “Harriet,” Feb. 10; “The Hate You Give,” Feb. 14; “I Am Not Your Negro,” Feb. 21; “Tell Them We Are Rising,” Feb. 24; “Just Mercy,” Feb. 28.
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