February 4, 2008

Cornell Celebrates Black History

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Beginning today, a full week of events is scheduled to honor Black History Month, including meals, music and forums discussing Pan-African history and current issues.
Tonight will feature a performance by the Chosen Generation Gospel Choir and meals on both North and West campus with a “New South Cuisine” theme.  An art exhibit, “Carrying the Tradition,” will also open this evening at the Carol Tatkon Center and will remain up throughout the week.
Meaghann Lawson ’10 is co-chair of this week’s events.  “There is a special need for us to do something [to recognize Black History Month]. As members of Black Students United, we are an umbrella organization where we can cater to the whole African Diaspora,” Lawson said.
The week includes scheduled events on both the North and West campuses. The festivities end Friday with a “Evening of the Arts,” hosted by the Cornell Caribbean Students Association, along with a dance performance by Uhuru Kuumba Dance Ensemble and a special dinner at the Alice Cook House.
Darin Jones ’10, another member of Black Students United and an organizer of the activities, said that the importance of the week is “helping to explain what Pan-African culture is and how it is expressed.  The media does a terrible job of portraying who we are … this should be an opportunity for people to learn something about how diverse our community is [at Cornell].”
Other events in honor of Black History Month include a special exhibit in Olin library. The exhibition will offer the public a chance to see films and books from the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections relating to African-American history.  The School of Industrial and Relations has an ongoing lecture series entitled “The History of Black Workers in the United States” on Monday evenings at 6 p.m. in the ILR Conference Center.
The University has also sponsored the Soup & Hope Series today during the lunch hour in Sage Chapel where local community members will talk about their work for “compassionate change in the world.”
Black History Month was established in 1976 as an expansion of Negro History Week, a celebration dating back to 1926 when the history of African-Americans was largely ignored in educational institutions.
February was the month chosen because it includes the birthday of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.  The Second Annual Black History Month Week of Events & Dinners is supported by a partnership between Cornell Dining, Black Students United and Campus Life.