The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Black history month events celebrate diversity

At Guilford, Black History Month is not just a history lesson; it is a celebration of African American individuals, movements and innovations.

This year, the Office of Multicultural Education, Blacks Unifying Society and Africana Community have organized the seventh annual Black History Month observance. The theme, “The Multi-Dimensions of Blackness,” incorporates many aspects of Africana culture through discussions, films, workshops and performances, according to the Guilford website.

“The events reflect the theme of the multi-dimensions of blackness,” said Jada Drew, Africana Community coordinator. “Academic, scientific, music, dance, poetry, history — all these aspects of black culture are included.”

Guilford’s celebration of Black History Month kicked off on Feb. 1 with the first segment of Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” The Africana Film and Discussion Series is presenting the film, which focuses on the catastrophic devastation of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The final segment of the film will be shown on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

The Africana Community is also hosting a series of brown bag lunches and discussions. Discussions have been led by Director of Multicultural Education Holly Wilson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean Adrienne Israel, and Director of Community Learning James Shields. The discussions focus on historical and modern aspects of African American culture. The final brown bag discussion, led by Shields and co-sponsored by the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement, will be “The Integration of Guilford College” on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

The focus on African American history seen in the brown-bag discussions is paralleled by the campus book read of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. The book delineates the origin of the first immortal human cell line, taken from African American mother and wife Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge. The book discussion group, co-sponsored by the biology department, met on Feb. 2 and Wednesday, Feb. 16 to discuss the scientific and ethical implications of the story. The discussion will continue on Mar. 16 and Apr. 27.

On Feb. 3, emcee and activist Ise Lyfe asked “Is Everybody Stupid?” Lyfe discussed the systems operating in American culture, including social norms, media and black culture.

“The overall presentation was mind-blowing,” said junior Delphine Uwase in an e-mail interview. “The way Ise Lyfe used humor to talk about the most difficult aspects of Black History Month, but at the same time not undermine or degrade their importance, was incredible to me. I loved everything, but when the speaker started talking about the youth and how the youth should pay attention to the history they’re writing, that was the most powerful.”

Hip-hop dance lessons instructed by Sudie Nallo on Feb. 10 and Thursday, Feb. 17 focused on a more energetic aspect of Africana culture. The first lesson introduced a break dancing routine, while the second centered on street funk.

“There are so many dimensions to blackness and dance,” said Nallo at the break dancing session. “It’s not like there’s one cookie cutter of what blackness is. There’s no cookie cutter for hip-hop; it’s not just break dancing or funk. There are all these different aspects of dancing.”

Nallo was one of the founding members of Unified Rhythms, the first ever hip-hop dance troupe at Wake Forest University.

“The way we danced, it wasn’t just a black thing or a Latino thing,” said Nallo. “It was an everyone thing, and it still is. Hip-hop is all about bringing people together.”

On Thursday, Feb. 17, the Spiritual Renaissance Singers of Greensboro performed in Dana Auditorium. The program was co-sponsored by the music department and presented unaccompanied arrangements of African American spirituals.

The final events of Black History Month are “I Am History,” a presentation by Josephus III sponsored by BUS on Saturday, Feb. 19, and “La Raíz Olvidada” (“The Forgotten Root”), a film about Afro-Mexicans, co-sponsored by Latino Community on Sunday, Feb. 21.

With this diverse schedule, it is clear that this year’s Black History Month events are truly a celebration of “The Multi-Dimensions of Blackness.” The events cover a spectrum of black culture, including dance, music, science and history, but the message is not just for African Americans.

“Black History Month is not just for black people,” said Drew. “It’s a celebration of the accomplishments of people from the Diaspora who have contributed to the success and beauty worldwide. It’s for everyone.”

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