January 27, 2012

Black History Month focus is on role of women

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Black History Month 2012 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale features poetry and film, history and ceremony, with the role of black women in the history and culture of the United States as its theme.

The event draws scholars and artists both far-flung and local to help celebrate and educate.  Many events are free and open to the public and take place both on campus and at community sites.

Here’s a descriptive list of what’s in store for the month of February, Black History Month.

Feb. 1

• Opening Ceremony -- Remember Our Mothers: Celebration Ritual Honoring the Mothers, Grandmothers, Elders and Ancestors,” 5 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms.

Those who want to participate should bring a memento of a mother, a grandmother, an elder or an ancestor to pin to the “walls of remembrance” for the ceremony.  Mementos can include photographs, letters, a scrap of material, even just a name written down on paper or other material.  The celebration includes expressions of remembering and a prayer of blessing.  A reception follows.

Feb. 4

• Ernest “Rip” Patton, Jr., Freedom Rider, 2:30 p.m., African American Museum of Southern Illinois, University Mall in Carbondale.

Ernest Patton took a Greyhound Bus ride in 1961 that was more than just a ride on a bus. 

Patton was a “Freedom Rider,” a civil rights activist who rode interstate buses to protest segregation.  Patton was expelled from Tennessee State University for his controversial bus ride.  Later, he became a jazz musician, a long-distance truck driver, and a community activist.  He still participates in Freedom Rides, but now he does so on annual University of Tennessee-sponsored Civil Rights tours.

            Feb. 7

• Darrel Dexter, “Slavery in Southern Illinois,” 7 p.m., John C. Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library.

Darrel Dexter, local historian, genealogist, and high school teacher, has become an expert on Cairo, Ill. specifically and on slavery in Southern Illinois more generally.

Feb. 8

• Mental Health in the African American Community, Black Men’s Roundtable/Association of Black Psychologists, 5 p.m., Lower Level Grinnel Hall.

Feb. 9

• David Joens, “From Slave to State Legislator: John W. E. Thomas, Illinois’ First African American Lawmaker,” 7 p.m., John C. Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library.

David Joens is the director of the Illinois State Archives, and the author of articles on Illinois political history.  His book on John W. E. Thomas is the first full biography of a man from the humblest of beginnings who went on to become a noted leader for three terms in the Illinois legislature.  Joens’ book will be available in late February on Amazon and is available now from SIU Press. 

Feb. 12

• Black Poetry Celebration, 4 p.m., Rock Hill Baptist Church (219 E. Marion St., Carbondale).

Anna Jackson, lecturer in the English department, and Beverly Love, assistant professor of radio and television, bring a night of poetry.  Come ready to read or listen.

Feb. 13

• Joanne Braxton, “Phillis and Her Daughters: Freedom through Literacy,” 7 p.m., John C. Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library.

Joanne Braxton is Cummings Professor of English and Humanities at the College of William and Mary.  Some of her books include: “Black Women Writing Autobiography: A Tradition within a Tradition,” “Wild Women in the Whirlwind: Afra-American Culture and the Contemporary Literary Renaissance,” a study of Maya Angelou and editor for a collection of poetry by Paul Laurence Dunbar. 

Feb. 15

• “City of God,” film screening with commentary by Novotny Lawrence, 6 p.m., Student Health Center Auditorium.

“City of God” is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama directed by Fernando Meirelles.  The film earned four Academy Award nominations.  Novotny Lawrence is an assistant professor in the Department of Radio and Television at SIU Carbondale.

Feb. 19-25

• Tunnel of Oppression, nightly, Lower Level Grinnell Hall

This annual event has become an SIU Carbondale tradition.  It is an opportunity to experience discrimination and bias during a half-hour tour that includes a variety of themes, from race and gender to class and physical ability and more.

Feb. 20

• Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson, U.S. Army Reserve, “Opportunities for Service,” 7 p.m., Student Center, Ballroom D.

Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson is the first black woman to achieve such a rank in the U. S. Army.  In fact, she holds the third highest position in the Army.  She is stationed at the Office of the Chief of the U. S. Army Reserve in Washington, D.C.

This event is also a recognition ceremony for the Rev. Archibald Mosely, a Carbondale native who was one of the first black Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps, during which time he participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima.

• Transpoeteic Playground: “Poetry is Not a Luxury: Honoring Black Poetry,” 9 p.m., Global Gourmet, on the town square in Carbondale.

Feb. 23

• Rachel Griffin, “Rosa Parks Did More than Sit on a Bus: Black Women, Gender Violence, and Hidden Activist Histories,” Black Men’s Roundtable and Progressive Masculinities Mentors Panel, 7 p.m. Student Health Center Auditorium.

Rachel Griffin is an assistant professor of intercultural communication in the Department of Speech Communication at SIU Carbondale.  She also specializes in critical race theory, gender violence research and critical pedagogy.

Feb. 28

• Jodi L. Merriday, “Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Abby Lincoln,” 7 p.m., place to be announced.

Jodi L. Merriday is a jazz and neo-soul vocalist as well as a performance poet.  She presents a musical and educational tribute to a trio of famous black women vocalists.

Feb. 29

• “Is Kanye West Right?  African American Financial Literacy,” 5 p.m., Student Health Center Auditorium.