Black History Month brings speakers, events to GV

GVL / Archive
Bobby Springer

GVL Archives

GVL / Archive Bobby Springer

Leah Mitchell

As February draws near, so does the well-regarded celebration known as Black History Month.

Black History Month recognizes the achievements made by black Americans, and it’s also a time for distinguishing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. As Grand Valley State University holds this month tribute, the Allendale Campus will be hosting a wide spread of events Feb. 5-28.

Donald Mitchell Jr., assistant professor of education, will kick off the BHM events with a panel discussion that includes four other students at GVSU who are members of black Greek-lettered organizations (BGLOs). They will discuss the importance of the effect that those organizations have on GVSU’s campus as a whole.

“I am truly passionate about sharing what I know about black Greek-lettered organizations,” Mitchell said. “BGLOs are oftentimes overlooked during the month of February, but these groups are so important in the African American historical narrative.”

This panel will be Feb. 5 from noon to 1 p.m. in room 2263 of the Kirkhof Center.

The next event will focus on afro-futurism, considering blacks in science fiction through Octavia Butler’s book known as “Kindred.”

Bobby Springer, associate director of multicultural affairs, will also be hosting a student panel discussion to talk about the significance of these readings. This event will be Feb. 11 from noon to 1 p.m. in room 2263 of the Kirkhof Center.

Another event, the fourth Positive Black Women Annual Comedy/Poetry Jam, will celebrate Valentine’s Day with laughs and rhymes. This opportunity allows any GVSU student, staff or faculty member to perform in a café-style atmosphere. Contact [email protected] by Feb. 1 to register for this event, which will be Feb. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center.

Black History Month also brings A Taste of Soul to campus to share a variety of traditional foods that consisted of corn, bacon/pork, molasses, flour, seasonal fruits and vegetables during a time when everything was used and nothing was wasted. The feast will take place Feb. 15 from noon to 1 p.m. in the lobby of the Kirkhof Center.

GVSU will host Patrick Miles Jr., U.S. attorney for the western district of Michigan, Feb. 19 from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room to speak on effective leadership and service. Nominated by President Barack Obama, Miles is a frequent author and speaker to professional audiences.

Another guest speaker, Rev. Robert Jones, will stop by Feb. 20 to weave timeless stories to champion the beauty and power of shared culture. Folk, blues and spirituals are only a few genres of music Jones uses to convey his deep love for traditional African American music.

“He is going to bring stories of African Americans to life through his story telling, and especially through the different original and traditional songs that we hear throughout our lives,” Springer said. “We might hear something that we hear all the time, but the significance has to do with the African American experience.”

For the final event on campus, Veta Tucker, associate professor of English, will be sharing details on “Freedom, Slavery and the Underground Railroad in Michigan.”

“A lot of people don’t know that Michigan had such a significant part in the underground railroad,” Springer said. “There will be two sessions of this presentation, one on each campus. We know a lot of people cannot get to both campuses, so we thought it would be important to make this presentation available twice.”

Tucker will be presenting Feb. 27 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Charles W. Loosemore Auditorium in the Richard M. DeVos Center, as well as Feb. 28 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room.

All events with speakers are LIB 100 and 201 approved as well as free and open to the public. For more information on parking or special accommodations, contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs at 616-331-2177 or [email protected].
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