Black History Month is a time to celebrate the cultural, historical and political contributions of Black Americans and to remember to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the year. I take tremendous pride in acknowledging the achievements of the inspirational Black American trailblazers who have made great strides in the fields of science, business and politics. Some notable names include Joseph Searles III, Dr. Patricia Bath, L. Douglas Wilder, Phyllis Ann Wallace, Elijah McCoy, Alice H. Parker, Clifton Wharton, Jr., Ursula M. Burns, Barack Obama, Madam C.J. Walker, Colin Powell, Annie Turnbo Malone, Norman McGhee, Sr., Condoleezza Rice, John H. Johnson and so many others.
For nearly 100 years, Black History Month has been observed in February as a month-long celebration honoring the contributions made by Black Americans in our country. Black History Month began as Black History Week in 1926 when African American historian, Carter G. Woodson, and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced that the second week of February would be celebrated as “Negro History Week”. In February 1970, due to the urging of the Black United Students at Kent State University, Black History Week expanded to become a month-long celebration in the United States. In 1976 for the United States bicentennial, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, as has every president since that time.
Here are some of the fascinating virtual and in-person events to help you learn more about the contributions of amazing Black Americans.
West Windsor Arts
952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ
Manifesting Beloved Community
January 11 - February 26
Imagine a world where social and economic justice flourish and structural racism no longer exists. West Windsor Arts, In partnership with Art Against Racism, a 501(c)3 organization, the exhibition invites artists to explore what it means to live in a nation or world designed around social and economic justice without the ills of structural racism. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beloved Community” represents a global vision where all people share in the wealth of a healed planet. The exhibit combines an inspirational message with great works from talented artists.
Exhibiting Artists include Zakia Aziz Ahmed, Sumi, 7oveChild, Joann Donatiello, Ilene Dube, Janet Felton, Veronica Foreman, Spriha Gupta, Barry Hantman, Marzena Haupa, Saundra Johnson, LoMo, Glenda Mah, David Meadow, Brandon Moultrie, Susan Parris, Felicia L. Reed, Rupa Sanbui, Barbara Weinfield, Phoenix.
Bonus: The exhibition can be viewed at the art center or online. Selected works will also be shown in online galleries at Artagainstracism.org.
Photo via westwindsorarts.org/
Gill Chapel, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ
Rider University will celebrate Black History Month with a series of monthly events:
All Month Access
- Black History Month Book Display and Reading List - Please visit the Black History Month book display in the Moore Library Reference Room to browse recommended readings related to Black History Month during February. There is a complete list of suggested readings, including both physical and ebooks here: guides.rider.edu/blackhistorymonth
- RACE IN SPORTS: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - So what is race in sports? It’s more than talking about racism. It speaks to history and pioneers, celebration, putting a spotlight on challenges, and recognizing triumphs. Speaker: Marc J. Spears, NBA Writer, ESPN’s The Undefeated.
- Gospel Fest - Rider students and neighboring community performers are encouraged to unite with us for a virtual closing celebration of Black History Month through gospel song, dance and spoken word. This event is free and available to the public.
Carl A. Fields Center for Equality + Cultural Understanding, 58 Prospect Street, Princeton, NJ
In celebration of Black History Month, Princeton University will highlight the contributions of Black Leaders with panel discussions, film screenings, cultural performances and much more. The Carl A. Fields Center offers diverse perspectives and experiences of race, class, gender, and their intersections are supported and challenged, questioned and answered. Touchstones of engagement, empowerment, leadership, and action are realized through dialogues and discussions, the Princeton University Mentoring Program (PUMP), and the Carl Fields Fellows peer educator program. The center’s mission is to foster unity among the Princeton community through programs and experiences that integrate self-awareness, multicultural and intercultural communication skills, social justice education, and leadership opportunities.
- BHM: February 21 - Rutgers Hosted Body Positivity Program
- BHM: February 22 - Black Queer Narratives
- BHM: February 24 - Community Care and Masculinity
- BHM: February 26 - Curlchella
Arts Council of Princeton
102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ
Overcoming: Reflections on Struggle, Resilience, and Triumph
Several days before his assassination, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed that “We Shall Overcome”, in a refrain motivated by the hymn of the same name and the generations of Americans who fought (and will continue to fight) for justice and freedom for people of color. In “Overcoming,” artist, activist and writer, Rhinold Ponder, inspired by Dr. King, employs his mixed media paintings to provoke reflection on the resilience of Black people in a continuing struggle for recognition of their humanity and demand for human rights. The exhibition will be on display through March 5th and I highly recommend you take the time to see this marvelous and thought-provoking exhibition.
Interesting Fact: Rhinold Ponder is a Princeton University graduate as well as an artist, writer, activist, and lawyer based in Princeton New Jersey. In my opinion, Mr. Ponder is the definition of a modern Renaissance Man.
Photo via artscouncilofprinceton.org