The Black Student Union and professors have organized an array of events for the month of February to celebrate Black History Month. Plans include film screenings, lectures, a display in the library honoring African American service men and women and a Black family reunion as the capstone event.
Director of Student Equity and co-advisor of the Black Student Union, Johnny Conley, hopes the celebration of Black History Month on campus will provide a sense of belonging to the 2% of Black students on campus.
“It’s really just a celebration of culture, especially in this region, in this area, on this campus. There’s not many [African Americans] that live and go to school here or even in the community, just to kind of give an opportunity to celebrate some of our traditions and customs,” Conley said.
The events will begin Feb. 5 with a screening of the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” a film that envisions the unfinished work of author James Baldwin. English professor and multicultural project specialist Tamarra Coleman, who helped organize the faculty lectures for the month, will follow the film with a discussion.
“I think for me the biggest thing for all of this stuff, not just Black History Month but all the other months, is just having a presence on campus … I think it makes a difference to our students, when you’re asked to think about some of these things that they might not have thought about,” Coleman said.
The next event on Feb. 11 invites guest speaker Dr. Jasmin Young, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of African American Studies at UCLA to discuss the history of the Black Power movement and its influence today.
On Feb. 20, Interim President Julius Sokenu will host a panel with three other professionals discussing Black identity and leadership. English professor David Birchman will also host a lecture on Feb. 24 discussing the novel “The Nickel Boys” by prominent African American novelist Colson Whitehead.
President of the Black Student Union, Igbal (Ge) Abdalla has worked with members and advisors of the club since December to plan the events for Black History Month. Part of their efforts include providing guided tours of Moorpark College to students of color from high schools in the Oxnard area.
“This time of the year is a very important month for black people to celebrate where they come from and to remind people what being a person of color means,” Abdallah said. “I would just want people to come and share this experience with us and because it’s a really important one.”
From Feb. 7-21 a display will be showcased on the main floor of the library highlighting African American service men and women.
The main event of the month, however, is the Black family reunion on Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. All are welcome to the quad to experience a significant part of Black culture, play cards, dominoes, jump in a bounce house and enjoy barbecue from a food truck.
“We wanted to kind of give an example of what it’s like for folks from all different walks of life to kind of get an understanding of what it’s like at a Black family reunion,” Conley shared. “Some of our black students from last semester had talked about not having a sense of belonging, or the campus not being so culturally sensitive to some of their needs. So, that is a lot of where this idea came from, to kind of give our students an opportunity to kind of be at home.”
The month will conclude with a final screening of the romantic comedy “Claudine” hosted by Film Studies professor Lauren Snowden on Feb. 26.
Additional details on specific times and locations for the events can be found here.