February is Black History Month, and the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center and other organizations are hosting a variety of events across campus, including a new Black Panther party and poetry reading.
Terrance Harris, the director of the BCC at OSU explains that not every cultural center plans its month’s events the same way. Each center has started creating their own traditions in celebration of nationally recognized holidays. At the BCC, the students plan the events. “The students are the staff...as the center directors, you know, we are helping orchestrate what’s going to be on those [event] calendars,” Harris said.
On Feb. 21 the BCC is hosting Kai Davis, a poet whose work often addresses black, feminism and LGBTQIA+ issues. After her reading, students will then have a chance to share their own poetry.
On Feb. 27 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is having a Black Panther Party to celebrate the Black Panther movement of the late 1960s. This African American movement was a revolutionary party for self-defense that among other issues fought against police brutality. This OSU event pays homage to the movement’s members and founders, with food, drinks, and even 70s-inspired attire.
The first event of Black History Month was on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. The fifth annual Black Excellence Celebration was a red carpet event on the Toyota Club Level of Reaser Stadium. This year’s theme was the Black Oscars and featured a dinner, keynote speaker and award presentations. Throughout the night faculty, staff, students, community members, alumni and grad students were honored by the NAACP for their work and contribution to the university and the black community.
The Associated Students of OSU, the university’s student government, is partnering with the BCC to host a panel on police brutality, on Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in MU room 109. The panel will cover the history of excessive force and if the separation of violence from the institution of police is possible. This will be an opportunity to learn about how this issue is affecting black lives as well as an educational opportunity in preparation for the 2020 election.
On Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. the African Student Association is hosting African Night in the MU Ballroom. A night of dance and food, guests will get an overview of the African content as students from each region show their culture through performances. This year’s event is growing in guests as the event was the talk of the university when students brought live tigers and lions to last year’s event.
On Feb. 13 at 6 p.m., the BCC will be hosting the “Am I black enough?” lecture, in the Race in America Discussion Series. Harris said this topic will cover “what it means to be black in Oregon, in a predominantly white state, at a predominantly white institution.”
On Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. Black Student Union will be having Decade Jeopardy during the weekly BSU meetings in the BCC. Participants will test their knowledge of black facts and historical figures.
On Feb. 26 BSU will be hosting a movie screening at 6 p.m. at the BCC. The title is not yet released but each year the films highlight black stories, directors, and actors.
“You don’t have to know a lot,” Harris said. “That’s why you come. So that you can learn. You know so, you’re not expected to know everything. No, you don’t have to be black to come into the space, and when you come into this space, you may not be black but what’s going on in here is,” Harris said. They are happy to have anybody “as a guest coming in no matter what your creed or whatever...come and learn and just experience it.”