LMU Marks Black History Month with Many Events

UNIVERSITY NEWS | Loyola Marymount University will celebrate Black History Month 2019 with forums, films, speakers and seminars. Included in the lineup is the inaugural Ron Barrett Lecture, named in honor of the influential professor of psychology who passed away in 2015. Also, the 16th annual African American Alumni Association Scholarship Gala will be part of the festivities.

The Office of Black Student Services and the Ethnic and Intercultural Services Department have lined up an array of happenings to touch on a number of issues and concerns. “Black History Month is extremely important because it’s a time-period during which all people can acknowledge and celebrate the triumphs of people of African descent,” said Nate Sessoms, director of the Office of Black Student Services. “However, the breadth and depth of black history is far too expansive to be celebrated in 28 days. Honestly, this is a year-long conversation in which we should be engaging – particularly, given our current national climate. Black history is American history. Therefore, every month is Black History Month – and an opportunity to continuously educate ourselves.”

Among the scheduled events are:

  • a discussion titled “Black Academic Excellence: Challenges and Solutions” (Feb. 6);
  • a pre-game celebration in the Lair before the LMU vs. USD basketball game (Feb. 7);
  • a 50th anniversary celebration of LMU’s Black Student Union (Feb. 9);
  • the second annual Campus-wide Privilege Check, presented by Sigma Gamma Rho (Feb. 13);
  • Black heritage poetry night (Feb. 13);
  • an excursion to the Pan-African Film Festival in Leimert Park (Feb 15.);
  • a lecture by Shawn Ginwright on “African-American Youth and Education”;
  • “To Protect and to Serve: a Critical Conversation with the LAPD.”

The 16th annual African American Alumni Association Scholarship Gala, on Feb. 23, will bring together alumni and students, or as the alumni association calls them “future alumni,” for a night of music and food at the Marina del Rey Marriott to celebrate academic achievement.

The inaugural Ron Barrett Lecture will be given Feb. 19, by Jacqueline Mattis, a psychology professor and co-chair of diversity initiatives at the University of Michigan, on “A Framework for Affirming Kindness Among Black Youth and Adults in Urban Spaces.” Barrett, who died at age 66 after a long illness, was known for his passion and concern for the success of African-American students and faculty at LMU. He served as a mentor to numerous students and faculty over the years.

Barrett joined the LMU Psychology Department in 1978, and served as chair from 2009 to 2014. In addition, he served as acting chair of the African American Studies Department from 2004 to 2008. Barrett’s teaching and research focused on death, dying and bereavement; African-American funeral rites; and urban youth homicidal violence to name just a few key contributions to the academy and larger community. He was an internationally recognized specialist on the study of cross-cultural differences in death and had published widely on African-American funeral practices and multicultural perspectives. He was highly regarded as a scholar but also as a hands-on community advocate. His efforts in the HIV/AIDS community led him to being widely known nationally for his work and consultations on bereavement burnout prevention. He also founded and ran a grass-roots urban anti-gang, drug and violence prevention program in South Central Los Angeles.

“The Office of Black Student Services is pleased to collaborate with numerous offices and departments across campus to provide events and opportunities that are educational, spiritual, social, and celebratory of the arts,” Sessoms said. “I’d love to see faculty, staff, and administrators, joining students in attendance at the events that have been planned.”