Black Heritage Celebration

Black Heritage Celebration

Spring 2022
Image of costume designer Ruth E. Carter and two stills from the film "Black Panther" with text reading: From Honoring Culture to Creating Marvel's Worlds: Ruth E. Carter's Costume Designs

The 2022 Commonwealth Honor College Black Heritage Month celebration event took place on February 17, 2022

Commonwealth Honors College welcomes groundbreaking presenters who are working at the intersection of art praxis, racial justice, and the embodiment of change as pathways to liberation. This year's focus, supported by the Williamson Lecture Funds, is on visual storytelling within the African diaspora, and the Afro-Futurist movement. Experience the creative scholarship and the ways in which their work connects with today’s efforts to create a more inclusive world that centers Black artistry and its critical impact.

This year's Keynote Speaker was costume design visionary Ruth E. Carter, the 2019 Academy Award winner in Costume Design for Marvel’s “BLACK PANTHER”  who has made history as the first African-American to win in the category. Her costumes tell stories so intriguing and unforgettable they influence music, fashion, culture, and film-making: they help us to understand ourselves better. In a career spanning more than three decades in theater, cinema, and television, Carter has teamed up with some of the most prolific directors from Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay, to Ryan Coogler. She has over forty film credits, including two Academy Award nominations for “MALCOLM X” (1993) and “AMISTAD” (1998), and an Emmy nomination for the reboot of the television mini-series “ROOTS” (2016). Carter became only the second Costume Designer, 60 years after the first, to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2021). 

Carter is a member of the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation, and co-founder of the Mildred Blount Scholarship Fund, which was created to assist BIPOC costume designers. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts from Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia and an Honorary Doctorate from Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts.


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The 2021 Commonwealth Honor College Black Heritage Month celebration event took place on Monday, February 15, at 6:30 p.m. 




Jamila Lyiscott, PhD (Dr.J)

Spoken-Word Poetry




Juana Valdés, MFA

Visual Arts



J.Al Bilali

Judyie Al-Bilali, MFA

Performance and Theater