February marks the annual celebration of Black History Month, and at Mason, a group of academic units, university offices, and student organizations have joined together to host a month-long set of intellectual, social, and cultural events designed to highlight the achievements of African Americans. The College of Humanities’ own program in African American Studies, the Office of Diversity Programs and Services, and staff members and students from the Black Student Alliance, the GMU chapter of the NAACP, the Iota Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and many others have joined forces to host a diverse line-up of activities to honor the challenges and the successes of African Americans throughout history.
“Black History Month is always an exciting time,” said Scott Trafton, Director of the program in African American Studies. “It represents not only an opportunity for African Americans to come together to celebrate the accomplishments throughout black history, but also to look forward to the challenges that lay ahead.”
This sentiment is reflected in the range of programming available during this year’s Black History Month. The kickoff celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including a performance by Mason’s student gospel choir. On February 7, Dr. Thomas C. Battle and Donna M. Wells, both of Howard University, led an illustrated multimedia presentation entitled “The Anointed Voices of Unity” drawn from their book of the same name, which documents more than 150 historic items from Howard's Moorland Spingarn black history archive, many never before published.
On Wednesday, February 20, the events will culminate with the W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture by Dr. Tyrone Forman, Associate Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The title of his talk will be "Hear-No-Evil, See-No-Evil, Speak-No-Evil? Racial Apathy and Colorblindness in the Post Civil Rights Era."
Black History Month was originally established in 1926 as “Negro History Week” by historian, author, journalist, editor, and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and, this year, Black History Month focuses on its founder in its national theme, “Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism.” Woodson believed that the American educational system often downplayed or ignored the wide range of positive contributions made by people of African descent throughout history, and, instead, national attention remained overly focused on negative portrayals of African Americans. In response, Woodson campaigned for the institution of a period of consideration focused on the incredible achievements of the vast variety of black peoples across the globe, especially those living in America, and, since then, has been known as “The Father of Black History.”
The W.E.B. DuBois lecture will take place Wednesday, February 20 in SUB II, Rooms 3 and 4 at 3 p.m.
March 12, 2008