January 31, 2019

Black Heritage Month at UMass Amherst

Art, performances, lectures, films, and more

From thought-provoking projects exploring the history of racially-motivated violence in the United States, to life-affirming celebrations of the cultural contributions of African Americans, UMass Amherst is offering a full roster of activities to commemorate Black Heritage Month in 2019.

The Department of Music and Dance brings the Langston Hughes Project, featuring the Ron McCurdy Jazz Quartet, to campus to evoke the rich music and poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. Accomplished alumni scholar Lindsey Swindall will present on the life and art of actor Paul Robeson, the first African-American man to create the role of Othello in an American theater in the twentieth century. Along with lynching survivor Winfred Rembert, director Shirley Jackson Whitaker will hold a discussion of her documentary Ashes to Ashes, which acknowledges the memory of all victims of racial violence during the Jim Crow era who never received a proper burial. Culinary historian and chef Michael W. Twitty will tell his family’s origin story through food, with roots in West and Central Africa, and examine the way race and cuisine are intertwined in American life.

Black History Month began as Black History Week, created by American historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, and celebrated during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, it was expanded to encompass the entire month of February.