February: Black Heritage Month

Black Heritage Month, a celebration formerly called Black History Month, kicks off this week with a full schedule of discussions, cultural events, food and entertainment.

As many as 20 different events are on the black heritage calendar, a cooperative effort of PSU’s community of color with assistance from ASPSU, the alumni association, and other participants. General chairman is Sa’eed Haji, black cultural affairs board coordinator and a native of Somalia. He is a senior in political science.

Other major players are the PSU chapter of the NAACP and the Association of African Students. NAACP coordinator is Candace Staples and Suad Jamac is coordinator of AAS.

Haji summarized the idea and goals of Black Heritage Month in a statement that said, in part, “Black Heritage Month defines our legacy as black people. It is also a time for all people to learn more about African-American culture. This month presents details about the theoretical and unanswered questions about why the black person’s life ends up being so hard in America. Black Heritage Month is the expression and the communique of black people to the rest of American people and elsewhere.”

The festivities officially kicked off with a reception last Thursday. Darrell Millner, professor of black studies, spoke on the idea of Black Heritage Month.

A major event from 4 to 6 p.m. today will set the tone with a program on the history of Black Heritage Month. The event is scheduled in the Multicultural Center, 228 Smith Memorial Student Union. Most events celebrating Black Heritage Month, unless otherwise noted, will occur in the center.

Bobby Seale, co-founder with Huey Newton of the Black Panther Party in 1966, will speak on racial and cultural transformation in the 21st century. One of the original eight defendants in the Chicago Conspiracy Trial, Seale will appear in the third floor SMSU ballroom at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 24.

In recent times, Seale has expounded a philosophy of “getting to the future via the whole synthesis of the quantum, computer and DNA molecular revolutions, and within the cyberspace non-linear range.”

Another highlight will come Monday, February 23, at 3 p.m. when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People presents its annual Zero awards to all departments that have no people of color on their staff or faculty.

This Thursday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. the alumni association will join in a salute to the Hewitt collection of African-American art on display in the Multicultural Center. This is an RSVP event. Information is available at 503-725-4948. Attendees will be entertained by piano jazz.

Friday is free movie night, with a showing of “Antwone Fisher” at 7 p.m.

A catered soulfood luncheon will be spread at noon Wednesday, February 10. Haji said the food will come from Yam-Yams or another authentic restaurant. The price is $5 for students, $7 for non-students.

Thursday, February 12, the NAACP will host a round table discussion from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on racism.

Friday, February 13, at 5 p.m. Shandra L. Terry will present her Rosa Parks reenactment of the famous bus confrontation which gave new impetus to the civil rights movement. Saturday night PSU will join the Portland community college Black Students Union for a Valentine’s Day dance, location to be announced.

Presidential candidate Al Sharpton appears in a cameo in a discussion movie, “Let’s Talk,” to be shown in SMSU 238 Tuesday night, February 17. Other events that week include a community of color reception February 18 at 6 p.m. in the Native American Community center, hosted by ASPSU.

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Back in the Multicultural Center, there will be a program on perfect images of black women at 5:30 p.m. February 19 and a tribute to black men February 21 at 6 p.m.

Among events of the final week of February, there will be a poetry reading in the Multicultural Center from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. February 25.

Dona Howell, African-American historian, will make two appearances. On Friday, February 27, she will present “I was a slave” in the Multicultural Center at 6 p.m. Saturday at noon she will talk on women in slavery in the center.

Black Heritage Month events will extend beyond February. On March 3 at 2 p.m. the NAACP will conduct a forum on HIV/AIDS among women of color. On April 3, supporters and friends of Black Heritage Month will dance, and hopefully raise some money for further events, aboard the Portland Spirit excursion boat. The 18+ event will charge $15 for students, $20 for non-students.

“Black Heritage Month provides an understanding that is essential for my knowledge,” Haji said as he summarized his feelings about Black Heritage Month. “It opens up opportunities to tell my history to people who never hear about it. It reminds me that I am of African inheritance. It determines my purpose a���� ��nd what works best for me. It gives me wisdom. I am proud to be black.”