UMass Amherst Celebrates Black Heritage Month

Black Heritage Month

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting more than a dozen events throughout the month of February in observance of Black Heritage Month.

“Be Heard: Black Heritage Month 2017” begins Wednesday, Feb. 1, with a reception for the exhibition “Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power” from 5–7 p.m. at the UMass Museum of Contemporary Art, located at the Fine Arts Center. The exhibit by Walker, a contemporary artist whose work is known for its themes of African-American racial identity, features 60 pieces including wall murals, lithographs, sculptures and shadow puppetry.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, the Men and Masculinities Center is sponsoring “Protecting Me & We: Ending Gender Discrimination & Sexual Violence,” a talk by the NFL’s first diversity and inclusion consultant and former pro football player Wade Davis. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

Kelli Morgan, the Winston and Carolyn Lowe Curatorial Fellow at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and a Ph.D. candidate at UMass Amherst, will speak on the art of Kara Walker on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 4:30 p.m. in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Room 160. Morgan’s lecture, “So Now I’m Looking Dead at You, What Are You Gonna Do?” will focus on how Walker’s art explores concepts of African-American women’s personal empowerment through visual expression.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, a facilitated conversation on racism within LGBTQIA+ communities will be held at the Stonewall Center in Crampton Hall from 7–8:30 p.m. The discussion is sponsored by the Stonewall Center, Racial Justice Coalition, and the Pride Alliance.

The Malcolm X Cultural Center is sponsoring a Black Heritage Month Community Building Dinner from 6:30–9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10 in the Amherst Room of the Campus Center.

Marc Lamont-Hill, activist, CNN political commentator and host of HuffPost Live and BET News, will give his talk, “The War on Youth,” on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall. Admission is free and two tickets are allotted per student.

On Thursday, Feb. 16, award-winning historian and public intellectual Donna Murch of Rutgers University will present a lecture titled “Crack Attack: Los Angeles and the Forgotten History of America’s War on Drugs”. The talk is sponsored by the Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series and the location is to be determined.

Professor John Rickford of Stanford University will speak on “Justice for Jeantel (and Trayvon): Fighting Dialect Prejudice in Courtrooms and Beyond” on Friday, Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the Integrative Learning Center. Rickford is an expert on the structure, history and sociolinguistics of African-American vernacular English and his talk is the 2017 Freeman Lecture in UMass Amherst’s department of linguistics.

A portion of Africa’s Great Civilizations, a new PBS series, will be screened at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The presentation will conclude with a discussion and Q&A.

At 6 p.m. on Feb.  21 in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, the honors college is sponsoring “Slave Resistance and the Making of American Abolition,” a talk by Afro-American studies professor Manisha Sinha, author of the recent book The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition.

On Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 4-6 p.m., the 23rd Du Bois Annual Lecture will be presented in the CHC Events Hall, Room 160. This year’s theme is “Viewing the Past through the Eyes of the Present: Exploring Race, Gender and Slavery through Art” and will feature a panel facilitated by Whitney Battle-Baptiste, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center.

Ben Jealous, a former NAACP president, will give a talk, “The Forgotten Origins and Consequences of Race in America,” at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom on Thursday, Feb. 23. Jealous will discuss what must be done to create a country where children are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. The lecture is sponsored by the UMass Chancellor’s Office.

The campus community will celebrate W.E.B. Du Bois’ birthday on Feb. 23 at 1:30 p.m. in the Du Bois Library lobby, where free cake will be served on first-come, first-served basis.

Finally, on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., award-winning, multi-voice spoken word and hip-hop duo Climbing PoeTree will have a theater performance at the Holyoke War Memorial Building at 310 Appleton St. in Holyoke. The performance, which will address mass incarceration in America, is sponsored by the Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series and is co-hosted by the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke. The performance is free and open to the public. Alixa and Naima, the members of Climbing PoeTree, have been featured alongside artists such as Alice Walker, Danny Glover, Alicia Keys and Erykah Badu.

The university’s Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) is encouraging the campus community to participate and follow Black Heritage Month with the hashtag #BHMUMA2017.