UCSD celebrates Black History Month

From talks on the struggle for democracy and human rights in Africa to black history in remedial spin in the United States and worldwide, from art exhibits on black La Jolla to films exploring black identity, race and social justice, Black History Month (BHM) will be celebrated Feb. 1-28 at the University of California, San Diego.

A New Dawn – Redefining the Future is the theme for this year’s celebration. Other events include a luncheon honoring diversity and equality, a scholarship brunch, gourmet African cuisine, jazz and soul music, the spoken word, a poetry reading circle, and Afro-Caribbean dance and drumming. All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Pamela Fruge, chair of the BHM celebration, quotes Martin Luther King Jr. in describing the hopes of the Black History theme: “When a new dawn reveals a landscape dotted with obstacles, the time has come for sober reflection, for assessment of our methods and anticipating pitfalls. Stumbling and groping through the wilderness finally must be replaced by a planned, organized and orderly march.”

A kickoff celebration for the annual campus-wide tradition will begin at noon, Feb. 2, at the Price Center, sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU).

The program will include musical performances, dance, the spoken word, and a poetry reading.

The keynote speakers are Edwina Welch, director of the Cross-Cultural Center, and Mentha Hines-Wilson, dean of Student Affairs, Thurgood Marshall College.

Also at noon Feb. 2, Professor Sandra Daley, UC San Diego vice chancellor of Diversity Affairs, will present a noon talk on Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” at the Biomedical Library.

Hidden Faces of La Jolla:

Portraits of Black San Diegans opens Feb. 1 and continues through Feb. 28 in the lower level of the West Wing, Geisel Library. Photographer Molly Low documented what remained of a black community in La Jolla of almost 500 residents that was active between 1920 and 1945. Taken between 1988-1990, her portraits of these residents offer an artistic and historic account. An exhibition reception will be held at 3 p.m. Feb. 8.

Opening Feb. 2 at the Cross-Cultural Center ArtSpace is an exhibition, Life Experienced:

A Display of Art by Lisa Ann Bella-Bryson. The exhibit features traditional mediums of art as well as everyday items. Images are reflective of a variety of cultures with a strong emphasis on African and African American heritage. The exhibit is sponsored by the Cross-Cultural Center and will continue on view through Feb. 28.

Audre Lorde Reading Circle:

Intersections of Race, Gender and Sexuality will be presented from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 3, 11, and 19 at the Cross-Cultural Center. Audre Lorde (1924-1992), who described herself as “a black lesbian feminist mother lover poet,’ was a novelist, essayist, and poet laureate of New York in 1991-92. The event is sponsored by the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Resource Center, the Cross-Cultural Center, and the Women’s Center.

On Feb. 5, the film short, Barak & Curtis:

Manhood, Love & Respect, and the documentary, I Am a Man, will be screened beginning at 6 p.m. in Revelle Conference Rooms A-C. The first compares and contrasts models of manhood presented by President Barack Obama and rapper Curtis Jackson, aka 50 cents. The second links everyday black men from various socioeconomic backgrounds with some of black America’s most progressive academics, social critics, and authors to present a dialogue on black masculine identity in America. Both are produced and directed by Byron Hurt.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, an American journalist and foreign correspondent for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, will speak on New News Out of Africa:

The Struggle for Democracy and Human Rights at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 in the Price Center East Ballroom. The event marks the 20th anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt College.

The 12th annual Black History Luncheon, Our History Then & Now:

A Celebration of Diversity, Equality, and Unity, will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Revelle College Plaza Cafe. Renee Barnett-Terry, dean of Student Affairs, Revelle College, is mistress of ceremonies. Performers include the Redeemed Gospel Group; Darlene V. Willis, spoken word; the San Diego Civic Dance Association, and Positive Self Image, step dancers. The entertainment is free. Lunch ranges from a la carte items from $1.85 to a full entree for $7.95.

On Feb. 20, Elisabeth Cameron, UC Santa Cruz, will speak on Living Spirits, Walking Dead:

Makishi and Ancestor Spirits in Congo and Zambia at 3 p.m. in the Social Science Building 101. Cameron is an assistant professor of the history of art and visual culture. She specializes in the arts of Congo and Zambia with an emphasis on gender issues and life change rituals. The event is sponsored by the African & African American Studies Research Project (AAASRP).

When Levees Broke:

A Requiem in Four Acts, directed by Spike Lee, will screen at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Price Center Theater. The film deals with different aspects of events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. Cauleen Smith, associate professor in the Visual Arts Department, will facilitate a discussion following the screening.

Nobel Laureate:

Playwright/poet Wole Soyinka will speak on Black History in Remedial Spin at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Price Center Ballroom West. A native of Nigeria, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986. The event is sponsored by Thurgood Marshall College and the Helen Edison Lecture Series.

Scholarship Brunch:

At 10:30 a.m. Feb. 28 in the UCSD Faculty Club. The keynote speaker is Farai Chideya, author and host of NPR’s News and Notes, a daily program about African-American and African diaspora issues that airs nationwide.

Other Black History events planned during February include:

The Power of the Zoot:

Youth Culture and Resistance During World War II, Luis Alberto Alvarez, UCSD assistant professor of history, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12, Cross-Cultural Center.

Collective Thoughts & Creative Expression:

A Night of Spoken Word, presented by Thurgood Marshall College, 6 p.m. Feb. 12, The Loft, Price Center East. In addition to spoken word and poetry there will be visual and musical interludes. This is a pay-as-you-can event.

Global Gourmet – Africa:

A cooking class and sampling of African cuisine, 4:45 p.m. Feb. 12, the International House Great Hall. It is sponsored by the AAASRP and International House.

Afro-Caribbean Dance and Drumming Workshop:

Directed by Gene Perry, a local Afro-Latin musician and head of the Elimu band sponsored by AAASRP, 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19, Social Sciences Building 101.

Charles McPherson Jazz Concert:

7 p.m. Feb. 22, The Loft, Price Center East. The concert highlights the Hidden Faces of La Jollaexhibit. McPherson’s grandmother was a homeowner in the La Jolla neighborhood featured in the exhibit. The concert and exhibit are sponsored by AAASRP and the UCSD Arts Library.

For information on Black History Month activities at UCSD, visit