UNIVERSITY NEWS | LMU’s Office of Black Student Services has teamed with several entities across campus – the Departments of African American Studies, Sociology, History, and Theological Studies, the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination, the School of Film and Television, the CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice, The Loyolan, and numerous student organizations, including the Black Student Union and ASLMU – to offer a full slate of events that guide the LMU Community in remembering and honoring the people and events that are critical to the history of the African diaspora. These events include speakers, films, discussions, and community-building events, which serve as pathways to greater understanding. This year’s theme is “Blacks in the Struggle,” and recognizes historical and contemporary barriers, as well as those individuals, who engaged in and endured the struggle for freedom and those, who are currently mired in the struggle to maintain it.
“The entire campus community has been engaged in Black History Month,” said Nathan Sessoms, director of the Office of Black Student Services. “The breadth and depth of Black history is far too substantive to be confined to any one month of the year. To that end, I would argue that every month is Black History Month – although we formally celebrate Black History in February because it’s the month during which noted scholar and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, were born.”
The first organized recognition of black history on the LMU campus was in May 1969, according to research by M. Keith Claybrook ’02. The Black Student Union at Loyola University, which was established a year earlier, hosted Black Cultural Week, bringing to campus elected officials, including Mervyn Dymally, then a state senator, and Hakim Jamal, a cousin of Malcolm X. All proceeds from the events went to the Black scholarship fund. Through the 1970s, Black Cultural Week increased in size and notoriety. In 1978, LMU presented the first Black History Festival. It was televised on a local station and broadcast on radio, and included a celebrity basketball game, music, elected officials and entertainment figures. The format has expanded in the ensuing years.
Some of this year’s highlights include:
- Feb. 8 – Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the American University Anti-Racism Center, will discuss “Racist Ideas in America: from Slavery to the Movement for Black Lives”;
- Feb. 16 – An off-campus screening of the new Marvel Comics film “Black Panther”;
- Feb. 20 – Sports commentator and activist Jemele Hill is this year’s First Amendment Week speaker; and
- Feb. 24 and 25 – “Voices of Justice” stories and dramatic presentations.
Other events fill out the calendar, including the ever-popular Sweet Potato Pie Social on Feb. 16th. The full schedule is here.