New Mexico State University will celebrate Black History Month with 11 events on campus throughout the month of February.
Festus Addo-Yobo, director of Black Programs at NMSU, said that history, culture and identity are important reasons to host Black History Month events.
“African Americans have contributed greatly, not only to this nation, but to the world,” Addo-Yobo said. “Having the faith to do good and bring people together and having a sense of belonging is very important.
“Unfortunately, our contributions are sometimes rare in the annals of American history, so I think it’s important for people of all cultures to know about our contributions, and above all, what our ancestors believed what we could become.”
Addo-Yobo also expressed the importance of civil rights.
“Civil rights make us more aware of where we’ve been, where we are today and what can become of tomorrow,” he said. “Seeking understanding for what has passed makes you aware of what you can contribute in the future.”
The celebration begins Wednesday, Feb. 3, with a town-hall style discussion among NMSU faculty, students and staff about race, culture and identity in contemporary America. The event will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Corbett Center Student Union auditorium.
Chris Love, president of the NMSU Black Students Association, took part in planning most of the activities scheduled for February. One addition this year is an interactive wax museum held in conjunction with a fashion show.
“The fashion show will feature children from the community of different backgrounds and cultures,” Love said. “And during that event, faculty and students are going to dress up as historical African, Afro-Caribbean or African-American figures and leaders. Audience members will have the chance to engage each historical leader, who will tell a little bit about who they are and provide a little bit of a background of that figure.”
The fashion show, interactive wax museum and social justice discussion will be part of the Afro Heritage and Culture Celebration Thursday, Feb. 4, from 7-9 p.m., which will also be held in the Corbett Center auditorium.
Two events will be held Friday, Feb. 12. The Embracing Social Differences in Educational Practice workshop led by Prudence Carter begins at9:30 a.m. in Room 50 of Milton Hall. A Valentine’s Day dance – Ebony Soul Valentine’s Night – will take place from 7-10 p.m. in the Corbett Center Aggie Lounge.
The celebration continues Wednesday, Feb. 17, with a continuation of Embracing Social Differences in Educational Practice. This is a follow-up workshop and discussion with Mary Prentice and Monica Torres. The event is 2:30-4:30 p.m. and will also take place in Room 50 of Milton Hall.
Attendees can unwind at Step for a Cause: Step Show and Comedy Night Friday, Feb. 19, in the Atkinson Recital Hall from 7-10 p.m. In its fifth year, this event features step teams from various fraternities and sororities, as well as a performance by All Def Digital Comedy.
Three events will be held Wednesday, Feb. 24. An in-depth discussion, titled Partial Visions, Multiple Perspectives: Views on Diversity from Around the Nation, will take place from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Held in Room 50 of Milton Hall, the discussion will focus on the implications of diversity at the institutional level.
The day will also feature an Afro-Cuban dance workshop and concert with world-renowned Cuban musical artist Danay Suarez. Suarez will perform and discuss the history of Afro-Cuban culture in terms of identity within the black and Latino communities at the workshop, which is 1-3 p.m. in the Corbett Center auditorium. A concert will follow from 7-10 p.m. in the Corbett Center ballrooms.
For more dancing, community members may attend Moriba West African Drumming and Dance Thursday, Feb. 25. Led by Soriba Fofana, master drummer from Guinea, West Africa, the event will be from 7-10 p.m. in the Corbett Center ballrooms.
The month-long celebration will conclude with the Black History Month Appreciation Dinner Friday, Feb. 26, in the Corbett Center ballrooms. The dinner begins at 7 p.m. and features keynote speaker Timothy Nelson, a graduate of NMSU who recently earned his doctorate from the University of Texas at El Paso.
“As a member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at NMSU, Tim was really a liaison between Black Programs and the community,” Addo-Yobo said.
In his 10 years at the helm of Black Programs, Addo-Yobo has brought in several significant guests and speakers as part of Black History Month.
“I’ve brought in people who have been icons in terms of literature and understanding of blackness within America,” Addo-Yobo said. “I think there are a lot of people who really don’t understand the aspect, not only of affirmative action and protocol, but understanding the contributions and how we can move forward. If we don’t really understand the history of people and what they have contributed, that means we are taking our society for granted.”
He added that people of all cultures and races must work together.
“We have to work together in terms of utilizing resources, as there are unique contributions that we all bring to the table; not only black people, but Hispanics, whites, Native Americans and others,” he said.
Love, who is a senior studying special education, said it is important to have the month-long celebration on campus.
“It’s extremely important, especially at a university like this where there’s not a large African-American or African population in the community,” Love said. “Black history is American history, so by having these celebrations, it provides an opportunity for people who are of African descent, and people who aren’t of this descent, to learn about our history and to make it universal.”
While all of the events are free, attendees must pre-register for the Embracing Social Differences in Educational Practice workshops on Feb. 12 and Feb. 17.
For more information, please call Black Programs at NMSU at 575-646-4208.
Author: Kristie Garcia – NMSU