Black History Month underway

Story by Carolyn Tiry

A series of informative and entertaining events honoring Black History Month are scheduled to be held on campus throughout February and into March.

The public reception, held Tuesday in the Council Fire Room, kicked off the month-long cultural celebration. It was hosted by the Black Student Alliance. The BSA also planned 100 percent of the events taking place, according to Tamika Marchbanks, founder and former president of the organization.

“We had a really good turnout,” said Marchbanks. “There were a lot of RAs there, so they all got our itineraries and can pass it on to their residents. We have high hopes for attendance for future events.”

Musical quartet Jabali Afrika also performed on Tuesday, to the delight of the audience. According to their Web site, the band blends African music with modern styles.

“I thought the first half was very cultured,” said freshman Nathan Servey. “It was interesting to see that the children were often the first ones dancing, and to see how many people get more inhibited as they get older. It definitely made me more interested in campus events.”

Though there will be other musical performances, including “Revival of Hip Hop” on February 19 and the partially student-written “Tone Poem” on March 1, most of the events are panels or discussions. The topics of the panels all fit within the theme of this year’s Black History Month, which is Student Relations on Campus, Marchbanks said.

According to Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, professor of history and adviser to the BSA, the “Preventing Police-Minority Problems” discussion will be one of the most important, especially for students. A representative from the Office of the Wisconsin Public Defender will also be in attendance.

“They really want students to know their rights, and they’re going to talk about student rights and responsibilities on-and-off campus,” Ducksworth-Lawton said. “I really think this panel will have the most impact, and not just on students of color; on all students.”

Another much-anticipated event is the student panel, which will be held Feb. 25 in the Alumni Room of Davies Center and will address student expectations of professors in the classroom.

Ultimately, the BSA wants to emphasize that the purpose of these events is to push awareness.

“Don’t be afraid to ask something because we’re obviously doing the panel to get asked questions,” Marchbanks said. “We’re not going to get offended if you ask something you really are wondering.”

More information about Black History Month and a full schedule of events can be found on a news release from the university and on the Web site of the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs. The same information can also be found at the event’s Facebook page; search for “UW-Eau Claire African American History Month.”

“I want (the people who attend) to see more ways to work across race,” Ducksworth-Lawton said. “(The panelists) are role models, no matter what race these students are.”