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Campus-wide events honor Black History Month

February 14, 2008

February is known as the month of love, the month when a rodent tells you how the weather is going to be and the month that is strangely short a few days. But it is also the month of cultural pride for many around the nation. February is Black History Month.

  Black History Month originally began as Black History Week in 1926 and was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Woodson hoped to inform the nation of the achievements made by the African American community. He chose the month of February to honor the birthdays of two important civil rights leaders: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

  Every year on campus, students, faculty and community members come together in February to celebrate Black History Month. According to Sanaa Jaman, president of the Black Student Union, BSU schedules several academic and cultural events on campus to “create awareness, share experiences and create better understanding throughout the school.”

  The BSU kicked off the month with “Pizza and Obama!” Jan. 31. About 100 people showed up to discuss the 2008 presidential election and Senator Barack Obama’s historic campaign. 

  The next day,  a panel gathered for a discussion and rap session called “Black Love: Examining black male/female relationships.” According to Nikki Shonoiki, a member of the BSU, it was a small gathering of mostly BSU members. However, she thought it was very insightful for the students in attendance who were not in African American relationships. The group discussed statistics and trends concerning marriage, relationships and pregnancy within the black community.

  One of the biggest events planned for Black History Month took place Feb. 12. Jane Rhodes, an author and speaker, held a reception and book signing at 2:30 p.m. in the University Center.  Following the book signing, Rhodes gave a lecture called “Framing the Black Panthers.” This lecture (by which Rhodes’ book is also titled) explored the relationship between the news media and the Black Panther political party. 

  The BSU schedule has three more events during the last week of February.  On Feb. 21, “Africa Night” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Falls Room near Riverside Commons.  The film “Malcolm X” will play in the Kinnickinnic River Theater Feb. 21 and Feb. 23 at 6 and 9 p.m. 

  Finally, Black History Month will hold its last event Feb. 27 with a Soul Food Dinner. While all the other events scheduled for Black History Month are free and on campus, the meal will cost $3 for UWRF students and $5 for non-students. This dinner will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Journey House, located at 143 E. Cascade Ave. 

  All students, faculty, staff and community members are invited by the BSU to participate in Black History Month. 

  “It is important for students to attend because we need to create awareness and educate people about black history and what it means to the African American students on campus,” Jaman said. “It’s important because as a campus we need to share our cultures with each other and expand our horizons.”