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Black History Month 2020: Black Excellence

Black History Month, or African American History Month, occurs every February. It pays tribute to and celebrates the achievements of Black Americans and acknowledges the central role of African Americans in United States history.

Black History Month was first conceived as Negro History Week in 1925 by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Like W.E.B. Du Bois before him, Woodson believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. The first celebration was in February 1926, a week that encompassed the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. They were met with an overwhelmingly positive response. By the middle of the 20th century, many U.S. mayors issued proclamations celebrating the week.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976 at the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged U.S. Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then every U.S. president has issued African American History Month proclamations. 

Salem State University celebrates Black History Month each year with a variety of events led by faculty, staff, and students that celebrate, honor, and recognize the work and culture of Black people. Please join us and view our full lineup of events:

Thursday, February 13

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access and Navigating the New Normal: The Way Forward for Arts and Culture Organizations

 5-7 pm | Central Campus, Recital Hall (Classroom Building)

Arts and culture organizations grapple with so much more than engaging audiences and producing great content. They are asked to address issues like diversity, equity and cross-cultural understanding, and to speak to challenges like social justice, communal empowerment, accessibility, and more. David C. Howse, Senior Associate Vice President, Emerson College and Executive Director, ArtsEmerson, a recognized speaker and commentator on the arts and social integration, will share his perspectives on how to meet these expectations. Offering music with a message, the multi-talented Stan Strickland will open the session. 

MSA and UAT: Lights Out An All Black Affair

9 pm-1 am | South Campus Gym

For students; presented by the Multicultural Students Association (MSA) and African Students Union (ASU)

Tuesday, February 18

From My Kitchen to Yours! with Viking Dining and Franklin Chilaka

11 am-1 pm | North Campus Dining Commons

Join Viking Dining and assistant director of First Year Experience, Franklin Chilaka, as they help serve dishes inspired by Nigerian cuisine and the African diaspora! Open to all Salem State community members, the dishes will be served for lunch from 11 am-1 pm in celebration of Black History Month 2020: Black Excellence.

Wednesday, February 19

Conscious Kickback: Black~ish

4-5:15 pm | LEAD Center for Diversity and Culture (room 202), Ellison Campus Center

Join LEAD for a discussion about what it means to identify as bi-racial, Multiracial, Black and feel as if you are too much or not enough.

Thursday, February 20

Monthly LGBTQIA+ Discussions: Intersectionality for LGBTQIA+ People of Color

4-5 pm | LEAD Center for Diversity and Culture (room 202), Ellison Campus Center

Participate in discussions or simply listen out! In celebration of Black History Month 2020: Black Excellence, this discussion will focus on the intersectionality of LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color identities. Open to all Salem State community members. We hope to see you there!

MSA Red Table Talk: Black, Brown and Proud

7-9 pm | Veterans Hall, Ellison Campus Center

This is an event that is part of the Multicultural Student Association's Black History Month celebration. The theme of this Red Table Talk is "BLACK, BROWN, and PROUD."

Join students Fanelson '20, Michaela '21, Simone '22, Buda '23, and MSA alum Ajah for a facilitated panel discussion.

Writer Series: Kimberly McLarin

7:30-9 pm | MLK Room, Ellison Campus Center

Kim McLarin is the author of the critically-acclaimed novels Taming It Down (1999), Meeting of the Waters (2001), and Jump at the Sun (2006) and of the memoir Divorce Dog: Motherhood, Men, & Midlife. McLarin is also co-author of the memoir Growing Up X with Ilyasah Shabazz. Her most recent book is Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Life and Love.

McLarin's nonfiction writing has appeared in The New York Times, the New England Review, the Sewanee Review, Glamour, The Washington Post and other publications. She is a former staff writer for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Greensboro News & Record, and The Associated Press. Currently, she writes a monthly column for

Tuesday, February 25

Black Employee Resource Group Gathering

5-7 pm | Charlotte Forten Legacy Room, 316B Meier Hall

We invite all Black Employee Resource Group (BERG) members to a social gathering in celebration of Black History Month. The gathering will take place on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 from 5 pm-7 pm in the Charlotte Forten  Legacy Room, 316B Meier Hall

Refreshments provided. This event is for Salem State faculty and staff only.

Wednesday, February 26

Lies Your Teacher Told You: Black History Edition

5-6 pm | Petrowski Room, Marsh Hall

Join for a discussion with the LEAD Office on what your American history textbook got wrong and left out about Black History. Based on the book, "Lies Your Teacher Told You": This Black History Edition will take place on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, from 5-6 pm in the Petrowski Room (Marsh Hall).

Thursday, February 27

MSA and ASU: Black History Month Dinner: Black Excellence

7-9 pm | Veterans Hall, Ellison Campus Center

This event is for students, faculty and staff to come out and celebrate the end of Black History Month with a formal dinner.

The evening of celebration includes food, performances and more! Please note that formal attire required. 

Presented by the Multicultural Students Association (MSA) and African Students Union (ASU)

February Month-long Events

IDEA Den: Black Excellence

February's IDEA Den theme is "Black Excellence," in celebration of Black History Month. The IDEA Den highlights some voices/stories of everyday folks. Black people who spoke up shared their stories and started a movement for change. See books on display by published folks and then see some folks that are outliving their lives doing activist work- some as young as ten-years-old.

Black Excellence Popup Video Series

Now playing at Marsh Dining Hall and Starbucks Cafe (in Viking Hall). Please see the event link for films, dates and times.

This event lineup is coordinated by Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and Black History Month Collaborative, which includes representatives of the Black Employee Resource Group (BERG), Center for Creative and Performing Arts, Sociology Department, Enrollment Management, First Year Experience, Inclusive Excellence, Institutional Advancement, LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy and Diversity), Multicultural Student Association, Salem’s No Place for Hate Committee, School of Social Work, and Urban Arts Theatre.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and Black History Month Collaborative
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