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Jan. 18, 2008

Black History Month highlights African-American achievements

by Paula Van Brocklin

The United States has recognized Black History Month each February since the event was established in 1976. Iowa State also has a long-held tradition of observing the celebration.

Several on-campus activities will mark this year's observance of Black History Month. From lectures to panel discussions to the performing arts, students, faculty and staff will have many opportunities to immerse themselves in the African-American culture.

Melanie Smith, who works with diversity issues in the office of the executive vice president and provost, said Black History Month is an opportunity for African-Americans to garner attention for their contributions around the world.

"It's important [to recognize Black History Month] because the contributions of African-Americans tend to get lost throughout the year," Smith said. "It's a good opportunity to remember some things we don't always hear about."

A case in point, according to Smith, is Frederick Patterson. Smith said she, too, recently discovered that Patterson, who established the United Negro College Fund, received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in veterinary medicine from Iowa State.

"That's a pretty significant contribution," Smith said.

Smith said she looks forward to the day when the contributions of African-Americans are remembered throughout the year, not only during Black History Month.

"It's important to continue the tradition until the recognition of African-Americans becomes mainstream," Smith said.

Black History Month events

Thursday, January 24

  • 4 p.m., Celebration, honoring Martin Luther King Jr., musical performances and speakers, Great Hall, MU, 4-9934.

Friday, February 1

  • 7 p.m., Concert, Restoration & Prayze Gospel Choir, Gospel Soul Innovators, New Baptist Church Children's Choir and others, free, Great Hall, MU, 4-9934.
  • 8 p.m., Film, Banished, three U.S. towns in the early 20th century forced their African-American populations to leave, free, Pioneer Room, MU, 6-6848.

Monday, February 4

  • Noon, Panel discussion, "Classroom Climate for Students of Color at Iowa State," ISU alum Modupe Labode will join students, administrators and faculty to discuss the campus experiences of students and faculty of color, free, Sun Room, MU, 4-9934.
  • 8 p.m., Lecture, "The Lost History of the Civil Rights Movement," Modupe Labode, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, free, Sun Room, MU, 4-9934.

Thursday, February 7

  • 6-9 p.m., Silent auction, Mid-Iowa Community Action, supports Story County residents living with HIV or AIDS, $15, 3M Recreation Building, 900 N. Dayton Ave., 956-3312.

Saturday, February 9

  • 6-9 p.m., Social Justice Summit (formerly the Multicultural Leadership Summit), to increase student awareness of social issues and help them become agents of change on campus (continues 1-7 p.m. Feb. 10), free, Sun Room, MU, 6-6848.

Sunday, February 17

  • 3 p.m., Performance, Addy: An American Girl Story, a young slave and her mother flee a North Carolina plantation in 1865 on the Underground Railroad, *$24.50, Stephens, 4-2479.

Monday, February 18

  • 10 a.m., Performance, Addy: An American Girl Story, $4, see Feb. 17.

Monday, February 25

  • 8 p.m., Lecture, "The Color of Our Future," Farai Chideya, National Public Radio and author, free, Sun Room, MU, 4-9934.


Iowa State will celebrate Black History Month with activities including lectures, discussions and concerts.