The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Black History Month is bigger than its name this year

More than 25 University of Richmond groups and organizations have teamed up this year to celebrate Black History Month and establish a calendar of events that lasts through April, including four new events.

The calendar started Jan. 21 with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it continues with movie screenings, lunches and dinners, discussions, panels, performances and presentations.

The new events include a brown bag luncheon and discussion of the documentary "Race: The Power of an Illusion" with biology professor Malcolm Hill on Feb. 7, a presentation about presidential politics hosted by the Young Democrats on Feb. 11, a three-part series highlighting the black struggle for equal rights and a conference hosted by the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department on Feb. 22.

The Black History Month planning committee — comprising university faculty, staff and students — worked with departments and organizations across campus to get events on the calendar, but also had to be conscious of over-programming, Kerry Fankhauser, associate dean for programming and leadership, wrote in an e-mail. In addition, there are events that will take place but were not announced in time for the November deadline set by the planning committee, Fankhauser said.

Senior Leah Adams, president of the Multicultural Student Union, said the committee had been working since the middle of the fall semester to make sure nothing was missing from the calendar and that the events would be appealing to the student body. She highlighted the Oliver Hill/CIGNA Scholars program, a student-organized event, on Feb. 17 as an event that shouldn't be missed.

Glyn Hughes, director of Common Ground, said he was particularly excited for the luncheon with Malcolm Hill because when people think of black history, they don't tend to think of scientists.

Hughes added that the length of the calendar is a way to draw attention to more events that are going on throughout the semester.

"History is told from the perspective of those in power," he said, referencing Howard Zinn, an American historian, professor and bestselling author. "The histories of marginalized groups get under-explored at best, erased at worst.

"Black History Month is when we carve out time to really focus on black history, but we don't want it to only be relevant in February. Yes, this will be the moment we will highlight it, but we've really integrated black history throughout the campus and throughout the year."

The university's events calendar is already so full with programs and activities that the planning committee tried to alleviate issues of over-programming, Adams said, but there are some events scheduled on the same day at the same time. With the extended Black History Month schedule, "it might give students the opportunity to come out to more events and not be concentrated on just 28 days," she said.

Contact reporter Jacki Raithel at jacki.raithel@richmond.edu

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