Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Campus prepares to honor heritage

Like the people whose contributions they commemorate, Northwestern’s Black History Month events will represent diverse perspectives.

NU’s Black History Month Committee, led by African-American Student Affairs director Carretta Cooke, designed the schedule for the university’s celebration.

More than 30 events are planned for February and early March. The first major event, a lecture by author Valerie Boyd, is today at 4 p.m.

One of the goals in creating the program, Cooke said, was to use a range of schowcases — from drama to lectures to comedy — to show the diversity of black history and culture, as well as to better reach out to the entire student body.

“We wanted to showcase African culture and history as well as African-American (culture and history),” Cooke said.

“Our goal is to bring people of all races and classes together.”

Boyd, Medill ’85 and author of “Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston,” will discuss Hurston’s life and career and the process of researching and writing Hurston’s biography. The lecture will be today at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum.

NU’s lineup of events ties into the national theme, “Souls of Black Folk: Our Past, Our Present and Our Future,” which commemorates the 100th anniversary of W.E.B. Dubois’ book of the same name.

Kristen Casazza, a Weinberg freshman, said although she was impressed with the Black History Month planning, she doesn’t think people should see black history as different from the United States’ collective history.

“I wish society was at a point where, when we thought of our nation’s history, we thought of black history as a part of that, rather than something separate,” Casazza said.

Malena Amusa, a Medill freshman, said she appreciated the Black History Month Committee’s attempt to show black society from multiple points of view.

“All to often, when it comes to Black History Month, people tend to focus only on the legacy of Martin Luther King and a select group of civil rights activists,” Amusa said. “I think that’s important, but at the same time, the post-civil rights struggle offers an array of new movements — like hip-hop and the movement for higher education for blacks — that are not touched upon enough.”

Elaine Brown, former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, will present “New Age Racism,” the Black History Month keynote lecture Thursday. Brown is now the president of Fields of Flowers, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to building an education center for poor children, which would serve as a model for other institutions.

On Saturday, performance studies Prof. E. Patrick Johnson will present “Strange Fruit,” an autobiographical play exploring his journey into racial, gender and sexual identity. Other aspects of Johnson’s performance will touch on spirituality, gay nightclubs, a critique of black nationalism and sexual negotiation in Ghana.

The African-American Students Association will present “Love Jones,” a panel discussion Feb. 13 on love in the black community, which will address concepts such as “the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.”

The Chicago Campus also will host several Black History Month events, including “Hip Hop: The New Jazz,” a lecture by Lance Williams, a sociology professor at Northeastern Illinois University, and a lecture by Vernon Jarrett, senior fellow of the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Great Cities Institute.

A full listing of events is at

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Campus prepares to honor heritage