Black History Month celebration

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With at least two events a week, BYU students have a lot of options to celebrate Black History month. From symposiums to documentaries, February is full of activities to embrace and learn about black history.

Cultural programs coordinator Jennifer Langi is responsible for all the major cultural events, like the annual Fiesta and Lu’au. Langi explained that these types of events help students understand each other in order to love and serve each other. She has helped create the comprehensive Black History Month calendar this year, which lists and describes all on-campus activities dedicated to this month’s celebration.

Below are some activities available to all students, faculty and staff:

Films

  •  “Boycott” — A documentary on how resentment gave birth to a rebellion and a gesture as small as Rosa Parks’ protest brought change to history.
  • “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” — An award-winning documentary released in 2009. It discusses the African American presence in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  •  “Miss Evers’ Boys” — The true story of a nurse who took care of a group of black people who were being medically tested, and whom the government allowed to die even after having developed a cure for them.
MLK Commemoration Keynote Speaker Cathy Stoke with BYU student Marlena Smith.

“So much of U.S. history is in fact African-American History,” Jonathan Sandberg, a profesor in the Family Life department, said. “It is impossible to study the 20th century in the U.S. and not see the influence of the Civil Rights Movement across five decades; it is a spiritual movement of freedom and dignity that impacts all citizens of this great country.”

Symposiums

  • Human Trafficking — This symposium will be given by Matthew Mason, professor of Slavery and The Slave Trade in Africa and the Atlantic World. It will take place in the Wilkinson Center in room 3380 on Feb. 13. 
  • Jane Manning James — A symposium on a black pioneer woman in the LDS Church and civil rights affairs in Utah.
Other
  •  Education in Zion: “Black Pioneers” — The Education in Zion gallery, along with the Multi-cultural Student Services, have arranged a family home evening program in which stories of black pioneers from different time periods will be discussed.
  • Big Band night — A dance-and-dine kind of activity. Attendants will have the opportunity to listen to BYU’s jazz band, Synthesis, while enjoying dinner, after which they can watch a skit and an honorary presentation for a World War II veteran.
  • “Evolution of Black Song and Dance” — A presentation created by Justin H. Chang, assistant at the Multi-cultural Student Services office. Chang traced the characteristics of modern American music and dance back to the Caribbean, the plantations of the old South, and the shores of West Africa.
  • Perspectives — The Multi-cultural Student Services office will co-host Perspectives, a student enrichment discussion with the Black Student Union.

“Perspectives is a night where students can present their perspective of what the African legacy means to them,” said Chang. “This is not limited to black students, but rather anyone who has been influenced by the African diaspora is welcome to present; each year we get artists, dancers, singers and storytellers who share their history and passions.”

Events started on Feb. 1 and will go through the 27th.

“We hope to influence all students, of all races, creeds and backgrounds to be better prepared to go forth and serve in a truly multicultural world and church,” Sandberg said.

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