History is the study of past events so that we can understand the context of today and better shape tomorrow. 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 film festival exploring different elements of African American history to a celebration of the African American literary tradition to a fashion show celebrating black history through fashion and the arts.

Events include:

1. African American Studies Spring Film Festival

The African American Studies Program will screen a series of films during the month of February exploring key figures and moments in African American history. The film screenings, which will all take place at 6 p.m. in room 118 of the Education Center, include the following:

Birth of a Nation, Feb. 3, 2020. Released in 2016, this film tells the true story of Nat Turner, an enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831.

Father’s Kingdom, Feb. 10. This 2017 documentary looks at the untold story of the civil rights pioneer Father Divine. The son of emancipated slaves, at his peak, Divine was one of America’s most controversial religious leaders.

Daughters of the Dust, Feb. 17. This 1991 independent film highlights the story of a family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina at the beginning of the 20th century, examining generational splits within the family.

Malcolm X, Feb. 24. A biopic film released in 1992 featuring Denzel Washington that examines the life of black activist Malcolm X.

2. African Dance Class

Feb. 6, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the F. Mitchell Johnson Physical Education Center, room 201. Come join the College of Charleston’s Black Student Union for an evening of traditional African dance through a class taught by adjunct faculty Linda Harvey.

3. Black Love and Liberation

Feb. 13, 2020, at 5 p.m. in the Stern Student Center, room 201. Hosted by the Black Student Union, with the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center and Melanin & Mental Health, Black Love and Liberation will focus on love in its many facets and forms as it occurs in the black community. The event will appreciate and discuss healthy love, non-heteronormative love, love languages and self love within the black community.

4. African American Read-In

Feb. 18, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., room 227 in Addlestone Library. The Department of English and the African American Studies Program will co-host an African American Read-In in celebration of Black History Month and Toni Morrison’s 89th birthday. Kameelah Martin, director of African American studies, shared the following information about the event:

This event is focused on raising awareness and celebrating the African American literary tradition. Created by the National Council of Teachers of English in 1990, read-ins are held every year in February across the world. Faculty, staff, students and the public are invited to read aloud (often dramatically) from their favorite African American writers. The goal is to spend several hours reading, sharing and celebrating writers of African descent. Our focus will be on celebrating the work of Toni Morrison, who transitioned in August 2019.

You can bring your own selections (poetry, prose, plays, fiction, nonfiction, biography, memoir, etc.) to read or choose from several options that will be available. Stay for 20 minutes or 2 hours. All are welcome. Please bring your students or just drop in to recite or listen. We will read, eat cake and uplift the diverse body of work broadly defined as African American/African Diaspora literature!

5. A Talk Featuring Michèle Gates Moresi, Supervisory Museum Curator of Collections at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Feb. 18, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the Simons Center for the Arts, room 309. The Department of Art and Architectural History is hosting Michèle Gates Moresi, supervisory museum curator of collections at the National Museum of African American History and Culture who will speak about her experience helping to build the 37,000 object collection as the inaugural supervisory museum curator of this important and long overdue National Museum of African American History and Culture. The lecture is free and open to the public.

6. Black Professionalism Workshop

Feb. 20, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the Robert Scott Small Building, room 252. This is a workshop hosted by Najeema Davis Washington, associate director of alumni engagement and career services. This event is for young black developing professionals to improve their resumes and learn professionalism in the workplace.

7. The Lemonade Reader: Black Feminist Scholars Dive Deeper into Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Feb. 26, 2020, at 6 p.m. in Alumni Center (86 Wentworth St.). Edited by College of Charleston Director of the African American Studies Program Kameelah Martin and Kinitra Brooks, the Audrey and John Leslie Endowed Chair in Literary Studies in the Department of English at Michigan State University, The Lemonade Reader takes an academic look at the work of pop icon Beyoncé. This panel discussion featuring Martin; Brooks; Regina Bradley, assistant professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University; and Birgitta Johnson, associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of South Carolina, will explore The Lemonade Reader‘s black feminist investigation into constructions of race, gender, spirituality and Southern identity.

8. Trill or Not Trill

Feb. 26, 2020, 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. 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.

9. Cultivating Courage

Feb. 27, 2020, from 5–6:30 p.m. in room 101 of the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center. The lecture titled “Cultivating Courage: From Experience to Political Action for Justice will feature Mariah Parker, a young, black, openly queer, community organizer who was recently elected city council woman in Athens, Georgia, and is a doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Georgia and a rapper. She made headlines when she was sworn into office on Malcom X’s autobiography held by her mother. Her areas of focus are economic stability and racial justice as well as criminal justice reform and raising the minimum wage. Parker’s lecture, which is open to the public, will serve as a bridge between Black History Month and Women’s History Month, inspiring attendees – particularly students – to consider what gender, race and courage in politics really looks like.

Parker’s visit, hosted by the Women’s and Gender Studies program, is being supported across campus by Academic Affairs, the Division of Student Affairs, the Center for Sustainable Development, the Honors College, the Office of Institutional Diversity, the African American Studies Program, the Department of Political Science, the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center, Multicultural Student Programs and Services and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

10. Wild n’ Out Friends Feud

Feb. 27, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the Education Center, room 118. Join the Black Student Union for its rendition of the show Wild n’ Out, where students will team up and play various games and group activities.

11. Neutrum

Feb. 29, 2020, at 7 p.m. in the Hospitality Suite of TD Arena. The Black Student Union will host Neutrum, a fashion show and night of black arts where students of color will express their history and pride through arts and fashion.   

Featured image: The Black Student Union hosted a fashion show during Black History Month in 2019. (Photo by Heather Moran)