Black History Month, established in 1926 as a week-long festivity coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, has transformed into a month-long celebration of African American culture and history. Today, Black History Month is celebrated in February on many college campuses nationwide.
Each year, Southern Utah University embraces the tradition of celebrating Black History Month. From February 1 through February 27, films, performances and presentations will be offered to honor historic leaders of the black community, create awareness of other minorities and look forward to a brighter, more inclusive future. All events are open to the public.
“Black History Month is for all Americans, and this year‘s theme is especially powerful” says Dr. Earl Mulderink, Professor of History and Director of the SUU Community Engagement Center. “This year in February 2018, we are examining ‘African Americans in times of war.’ We will have excellent presenters and movies that survey the history of men and women, soldiers and civilians, during many of America’s wartime crises.”
Dr. Mulderink reminds students of the opportunity to earn credit while studying black history. “Students can register for either History 2922 or History 3922 until the first day of classes on Thursday, February 1. After attending the presentations and films, each student will submit an essay on their experience. Each class is worth one credit and graded on a pass/fail basis.”
New to Southern Utah University, Dr. Schvalla Rivera, Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, explains the significance of the celebration. “Black History is American history, in fact it is world history. The African diaspora is vast and includes people from every continent. Black history does not begin with enslavement, colonization or oppression. This rich history includes the founding of civilizations and languages; as well as the creation of arts, music and sciences.”
Dr. Rivera reminds us that far from being the “dark continent”, Africans were transcontinental explorers and traders.
“It is important that we all learn about history, so that we can understand and appreciate one another. When we recognize African and African American history we are not discounting other cultural history. We are in fact, expanding our knowledge of one another.”
Dr. Rivera encourages everyone to extend their understanding of the African diaspora beyond what they have been traditionally taught; and to learn about the contributions that African Americans have made to the state of Utah, this country and the world.
“Learning about and discussing this history adds to the beautiful fabric of the American tapestry. Furthermore, not recognizing the great contributions people of African descent have made and continue to make, allows for this group to be marginalized, underestimated and undervalued.” When people do not know their past, it is extremely difficult to aspire higher."
"Carter G, Woodson, who is called the 'founder of Black History Month,' said 'Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.'"
Dr. Rivera’s recommended reading:
“They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America (Journal of African Civilizations)” by Ivan Van Sertima
“African Presence in Early Europe” edited by Ivan Van Sertima
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Blues Legacies and Black Feminism” by Angela Davis
Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
This year’s Black History Month events are made possible by the Community Engagement Center, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Black Student Union, Department of History, Sociology and Anthropology and the College of Humanities and Social Science. For more information, contact Earl Mulderink at firstname.lastname@example.org or (435) 865-8341.
SUU’s Black History Month Celebration Activities and Events
Thursday, February 1 Introduction, Film Screening + Discussion
“African Americans in War: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” 7 p.m., ED 104
Friday, February 2
12th Annual SUU Step Show, 7 p.m., Auditorium
Tuesday, February 6 Presentation by Laura June Davis, Southern Utah University
“Truths and Myths About African Americans in the Civil War,” 7 p.m., ED 104
Thursday, February 8 Film Screening
“The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry,” 7 p.m., ED 104
Tuesday, February 13 Film Screening
“For the Love of Liberty,” 7 p.m., Education Building 104
Thursday, February 15 Presentation by Dr. Noel Voltz, University of Utah
“Free Women of Color During and After the Civil War,” 7 p.m., ED 104
Tuesday, February 20 Film Screening
“African Americans in World War II: Legacy of Patriotism and Valor,” 7 p.m., ED 104
Thursday, February 22 Presentation by Dr. Kristin Matthews, Brigham Young University
“African Americans and the Cold War,” 7 p.m., ED 104
Tuesday, February 27 Film Screening
“African Americans in Vietnam: Bloods of Nam,” 7 p.m., ED 104