Black history is an important and inextricable element of United States history. And Black History Month is a time to reflect on the struggles, accomplishments and future of African-Americans.

In honor of Black History Month, several College of Charleston departments, clubs, organizations and offices are sponsoring events ranging from a panel discussion on diversity in Charleston’s tourism industry to a look at the attempted slave rebellion organized by Denmark Vesey in 1822 to a CofC Gospel Choir concert honoring black history.

Events include:

1. Bridging the Divide

Feb. 5, 2019, at 6 p.m. (reception) and 6:30 p.m. (panel) in Alumni Hall (on the second floor of Randolph Hall). The College of Charleston will host “Bridging the Divide: Placemaking for Communities of Color in the SC Lowcountry,” with a panel of business and tourism officials will discuss ways to improve the diversity and inclusivity of Charleston’s tourism industry. Topics discussed throughout the event will be viewed through the lens of history, race and economics. The goal is to begin a conversation about how to improve inclusion at all levels of the tourism industry, including staff (curators, museum educators, board members) and narratives (marketing/promotion and tours).

Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham, the creative director and co-founder of Museum Hue of New York will deliver a keynote address. Bernard Powers, director of CofC’s Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston, will moderate a panel featuring Wayne Smith, director of the College’s hospitality tourism management programGrant Gilmore, associate professor and manager of CofC’s historic preservation and community planning program; Herb Frazier, director of PR for Magnolia Plantation; and Kwadjo Campbell, co-founder of the African American Tourism Conference. 

The program is sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Sustainability Literacy Institute, the African American Studies Program and the Arts Management Program.

The event is free and open to the public.

2. Trill or Not Trill

Feb. 7, 2019, at 6 p.m. in the Stern Center Ballroom. Multicultural Student Programs and Services is hosting the program Trill or Not Trill, an educational platform made to integrate culturally relevant content within the world of student development and leadership. The topic of the talk will be “What the 5 Elements of Hip Hop Can Teach You About Your Leadership Style.” Trill or Not Trill was founded by Jeff Dess and Lenny Williams, who together have more than 15 years of student affairs experience. Their leadership programming includes an emphasis on promoting cultural relevance, innovation and engagement in all aspects of students’ academic careers.

3. Vesey Conference

Feb. 8-9, 2019, in the College of Charleston’s Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. The Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program presents the two-day conference, “The Vesey Conspiracy at 200: Black Anti-Slavery in the Atlantic World,” which – focusing on the attempted Charleston slave rebellion of 1822 led by Denmark Vesey – draws together some of the most prominent scholars on the Vesey conspiracy and black anti-slavery efforts. The goal is to address the current state of scholarship on Vesey and on black abolitionist activity in the wider Atlantic World.

The conference includes two keynote lectures in the Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture series, including Bernard Powers, director of Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston, and Michael Moore, executive director of the International African American Museum. The two lectures are free and open to the public. Registration for the full conference costs $25.

4. The BLVCK PRISM Fashion Show

Feb. 9, 2019, at 7 p.m. in the Stern Center Ballroom. The College of Charleston’s Black Student Union will be hosting their second annual fashion show that showcases the black community’s artistic expression of what color means to them through the power of color in different mediums (visual art, music, fashion).

5. State of Emergency Brunch

Feb. 17, 2019, at 12 p.m. in the Stern Center Ballroom. Hosted by the Black Student Union, this event will include topics such as social justice issues and diversity and inclusion.

6. More Than Just Sports

Feb. 18, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert Scott Small Building, room 251. “More Than Just Sports: The 21st Century Black Athlete” will examine trends of activism and social justice among African-American athletes such as Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick, Muhammad Ali and 1968 track and field Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Sponsored by the African American Studies Program and co-sponsored by the Sustainability Literacy Institute, the Avery Research Center, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Multicultural Student Programs and Services, the event will feature Jamal Ratchford, assistant professor of history at Colorado College.

7. Hate Crime Forum

Feb. 20, 2019, at 6 p.m. at the Charleston Museum (360 Meeting St.). Sponsored by the Charleston Police Department, this event will feature keynote speakers Joe Engel, a Holocaust survivor, and Jennifer Benjamin Pinckney, a survivor of the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting. A panel discussion Q&A will follow with local community leaders and activists including Daron-Lee Calhoun II, Race and Social Justice Initiative coordinator at the Avery Research Center, and CofC student and LGBTQ activist Vanity Reid-Deterville. The event is co-sponsored by the Avery Research Center, among others.

8. Rhapsody in Black

Feb. 23, 2019, at 6 p.m. in the TD Arena Hospitality Suite (301 Meeting St.). Sponsored by the College of Charleston’s Black Student Union, Rhapsody in Black is a live expression of African-American culture through the arts of music, dance and spoken word. The event will include an elegant evening of talent and expression that provides African-American students with the opportunity to tell their stories through art. The event is free and open to all CofC students and the general public.

9. College of Charleston Gospel Choir Concert

Feb. 23, 2019, at 5 p.m. at The Triumphant Church of Charleston (513 Arlington Dr.) Come hear the College of Charleston Gospel Choir perform a Black History Concert featuring moving spiritual and gospel music. The event is free for CofC students and $10 at the door for the general public.

Featured image: Denmark Vesey statue at Hampton Park in Charleston, South Carolina.