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Black History Month events help participants explore African and African American culture

Published February 17, 2012

Black History Month events at NDSU include everything from music and food to fashion and literature.

The idea is to allow students and other people who attend the events to actively experience African and African American culture, said Angela Skaff, interim outreach program coordinator in Multicultural Programs at NDSU. 

“This area of the country may not have as much direct experience with black history, so this is an opportunity to recognize accomplishments not always presented in the average high school history book,” said Regina Ranney, diversity program coordinator for the Equity and Diversity Center. 

According to the African American History Month website hosted by the Library of Congress, the roots of Black History Month date back to the 1920s. The first celebration was in February 1926 the week of Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays. According to the website, “The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.” In 1976, the nation’s bicentennial, the celebration was expanded to the whole month of February. 

It’s unknown how long NDSU has had its own celebration, but a February 1978 Spectrum article mentions a Black History Month recital. Groups that organize NDSU’s Black History Month events today work to maintain tradition, as well as broaden the celebration with new elements, Skaff said. 

A popular event that has grown and evolved is Pan Africa Night, which is sponsored by the African Student Union, Black Student Association and Division of Equity, Diversity and Global Outreach. Pan Africa Night, which originally was held in Century Theater, is now held in the larger Festival Concert Hall. The event includes music, dancing and clothing from African and African American cultures. “The fashion show culminates the night of cultural dances and songs,” Skaff said.  This year’s Pan Africa Night is Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m., in Festival Concert Hall at the Reineke Fine Arts Center.

Black History Month was a new concept for Ewumbua Monono, a graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering, when he arrived at NDSU in spring 2009. He is from Cameroon in central Africa. “Dedicating the month of February to celebrate black history is a great avenue to share this story with the younger generation,” Monono said. Even though he was aware of some black history events, participating in Black History Month and other campus activities has helped him learn the details, he said. 

As an officer for the African Student Union, he also has helped find students from Africa to share their talents and aspects of their culture during Pan Africa Night. 

Other upcoming Black History Month events include:

  • An introduction to three important African American creative writers for the first half of the 20th century – Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright – Wednesday, Feb. 22, noon, Memorial Union Arikara Room.
  • A soul food dinner – Friday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Equity and Diversity Center. Tickets are $7 per person or two for $12.
  • A community gospel concert featuring singers from the area – Sunday, Feb. 26, at 2 p.m. in Beckwith Recital Hall at the Reineke Fine Arts Center.

Published: February 16, 2012


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Last Updated: Thursday, August 08, 2013 8:33:23 AM