Film screenings, webinars and virtual tours commemorated Black History Month at Moorpark College


Poster of James Baldwin is placed in the quad of Moorpark College on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Multiple posters were placed around Moorpark college to celebrate Black History Month. Photo Credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Jaya Roberts

Moorpark College spent the month of February commemorating Black History Month through a series of webinars and in-person performances.

Black History Month is an annual month-long event that celebrates the achievements, hardships, courage and resilience of African Americans.

In recent years, Moorpark College has held webinars, discussion panels and movie screenings to honor Black History Month. Last year, the college held a live interview with actor Jamie Foxx who spoke to students about his career, legacy, and the importance of embracing Black culture, history and heritage.

Jamie Foxx in the Main Stage Theater in Moorpark College talking to Moorpark College professor Lauren Snowden on Feb.24, 2022.

This year’s Black History Month events began on Feb. 7. The first event hosted by the college was a film screening of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which stars Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman. The screening of the film took place in the campus forum.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was released in 2020 and is based on a play written in 1982 by playwright August Wilson. The film is a dramatization of the life and career of influential blues singer, Ma Rainey. The movie was nominated for five awards at the 93rd Academy Awards, including for best actor and best actress in a leading role.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth,” states the Moorpark College website.

The next school-sponsored Black History Month event took place on Feb. 21, also in the college forum. The event featured a presentation that highlighted the Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United.

The GAHFU is a group dedicated to preserving Garifuna heritage through language, arts, music and cultural education. The organization serves Garifuna American, Caribbean American and Central American communities in the greater Los Angeles area.

“The Garifuna are original people from the Caribbean and have established communities throughout Central America and the United States,” the Moorpark College website states. “Their cultural identity and language are rooted in both the African and indigenous diaspora.”

The next Black History Month event took place the following week when history professor Patty Colman and local tour guide Martin Cofie held a virtual tour of Elmina Castle in Ghana. The tour took place through Zoom on Feb. 27.

A photo of Elmina Castle in Ghana, West Africa, courtesy of Professor Patty Colman on a recent tour hosted by Martin Cofie
Pictured is Elmina Castle in Ghana, West Africa. Photo courtesy of Moorpark College Professor Patty Colman

Cofie, a Ghana resident, studied at the University of Cape Coast and volunteered to be a tour guide at Elmina Castle.

During the presentation, Cofie explained that Elmina Castle used to function as slave depot during the transatlantic slave trade. Cofie shared videos touring the castle, delineated the history behind its detailed architecture and shed light on the role it played for over three centuries as a predominant slave fortress. Today, the castle is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a major tourist attraction.

Bailey Clifton-Goin, a student of Colman’s, took part listened in on the Cofie’s tour. Clifton-Goin reflected on the overall presentation and relayed the importance of comprehensive education with regards to Black history.

“When Martin commented on complete education being so crucial for making change, I feel like that really resonated with me, especially because I feel like I didn’t have a complete education when it came to American history and slavery,” Clifton-Goin said.

The celebration of Black History Month at Moorpark College was expected to conclude with ASMC-sponsored performances in the campus quad area by Zuzu African acrobats and Steel Drum Band. However, the entertainment was cancelled last minute due to unsafe weather conditions in Ventura County.

“Due to rainy weather, the ASMC-sponsored Black History Month events on Monday and Tuesday are canceled,” ASMC stated on Instagram.

While Moorpark College’s 2023 Black History Month agenda was disrupted towards the end by winter storm events, the strength, resilience and contributions of the African American community was recognized through the discourse encompassing the virtual and in-person events that did take place.

As March is now underway, the college is shifting its focus to Women’s History Month, also referred to as Herstory Month. To learn more about what events the college has in store for March’s commemoration of women trailblazers, click here.