Cultural events, lectures highlight black history celebration
Students gathered in Laurens Hall this week to learn more about Bayard Rustin, a key adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a figure who has been coined a “forgotten hero” in history.
Earlier in the month, they wandered the first floor of the building, examining provoking artwork about black hair from Donny Durham, a student at UNC Wilmington.
The events were part of PC’s Black History celebration, which offered cultural programming to the campus community.
“One of my hopes for Black History Month programming here at PC is to show the vast impact that black people have made in every sphere of humanity from fashion to cuisine to theology to the arts,” said the Rev. Racquel Gill, assistant chaplain in the office of Religious Life and Multicultural Community Engagement. “Black people have made a mark in every field.”
At the opening of the art exhibit, Durham spoke with students via video chat, and a student panel also led a discussion about black hair with their peers.
Students also helped steer the Bayard Rustin talk on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Dr. Will Harris, history professor, and members of Spectrum, who coordinated the event, discussed with attendees how Rustin’s experiences shaped their views on activism and leadership in the current environment.
Rustin served as a chief strategist and organizer for the March on Washington, and Harris spoke briefly on Rustin’s many accomplishments and how he was forced to work behind the scenes due to his status as a gay, black man.
Several other events took place, including Cuisine and Culture, featuring Director of Southern Studies Dr. Kendra Hamilton, and a #4TheCultureAppreciation Day, where students across campus wore clothing honoring black history.
Black History Month Convocation
A standing room only crowd filled Kuhne Auditorium in Neville Hall for PC’s Black History Month convocation Feb. 18.
This year’s speaker, Dr. Paula Ioanide, an associate professor of comparative race and ethnicity studies at the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity at Ithaca College, provided the lecture, “American democracy in a time of a white nationalist resurgence and ‘alternative facts.’”
“I think the U.S. is in an era distinct from other eras,” Ioanide said, noting she’d explore the state of the country’s democracy and “why now” during the lecture.
Speaking on the resurgence of white nationalists, she mentioned events topical to South Carolina like the 2015 Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston, S.C., as well as others in the country, including the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017.
The speaker — who grew up in communist Romania during a time of authoritarian dictatorship — also warned about the role that false belief and strong emotions play in politics here and abroad.
She suggested both can make facts irrelevant in countries where populations go through “ideological crises,” as hers did in its post-revolutionary moment, which marked the end of communism in several Eastern European countries.
Voters who hold onto false belief and emotion may also vote against their own interests, according to the Ioanide, leading to policies that adversely affect them and other groups.
Ioanide, who has organized against jail and prison expansion since she was a graduate student in California, closed by providing examples of movements she believes are pointing the country toward “real democracy.”
Imani: A Celebration of Black Faith
Imani: A Celebration of Black Faith with the Department of Religion, spotlighted the African American faith community. The Clinton College and Presbyterian College choirs led by Dr. Tony McNeil performed selections. Dr. Kirk Nolan, associate of religion, provided reflections on black faith.
The Rev. Dustin J. Pickett, campus minister for Diversity at the University of Dayton, provided the message, “We are the Evidence.”
Harris, faculty adviser for the Multicultural Student Union, also introduced the newest officers of the organization during the Imani program. Officers inducted during the ceremony are as follows:
- Maya Evans, president
- Jeremiah Jackson, vice president
- Kennedy Wright, secretary and treasure
- Kayla Overton, social chair
- Keith Boyd, chaplain and sergeant at arms
For a full list of this year’s events, visit presby.edu.