Eastern Michigan University celebrates Black History Month with awareness events

A colorful pattern resembling a Kente cloth is the background for Black History Month lettering

YPSILANTI – During Black History Month, Eastern Michigan University will present a series of awareness events that will honor the sacrifices, contributions, and achievements Black people made around the globe. 

“As we strive towards a more just and inclusive future, we must first begin that journey by honoring those who paved the way for diverse voices to be heard and matter,” said Barbara Patrick, professor of political science and director of the EMU Civil Rights and Social Justice Center. “Black History Month allows us to acknowledge their contributions and learn from their courage and intellectual prowess as we seek out new solutions to societal ills.” 

The narrative of black history began as a one-week celebration in 1915 by historian Carter G. Woodson, a founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) organization. Woodson discovered the need for more education for young African Americans about their heritage and the achievements of their ancestors, according to the History website. 

The one-week celebration gained momentum, and since 1975, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation honoring the month, which is a time for all Americans to orient themselves with the achievements of African Americans and other people of African descent. ASALH declared this year’s theme “Black Resistance.”

According to the association, the theme reflects how African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings. It also signifies the 1950s and 1970s sit-ins and boycotts of Black people and allies who led in the fight for justice and discrimination in all sectors. Protests of this kind aren’t new to Eastern.

One significant occurrence happened in 1969 when a group of student activists locked themselves in Pierce Hall with the intent to present a list of 11 demands to elevate the role of Black students and African American culture on campus to then-President Harold Sponberg. Their actions and other historical events spurred the university's quest for greater inclusion. 

Eastern will celebrate past and present achievements and share resources for the advancement of African Americans with the following events: 

Thursday, Feb. 2 

Black Professionals Panel
This panel discussion will explore what it is like being Black in the workforce, mental health, career development, and much more! The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Student Center, Room 300.

Friday, Feb.3

Trip to the Wright African American History Museum
Join the Black Student Union and Campus Life for a trip to Detroit's African American History museum. $15 tickets for students. Transportation and admission are included. The trip will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Friday, Feb. 10 - Sunday, Feb. 19

EMU Theatre Production: Stick Fly
The Department of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts presents Stick Fly by Lydia Diamond, directed by Randy Stewart. Shows will occur on February 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 7 p.m. and February 12 and 19 at 2 p.m. in EMU's Legacy Theatre. This production is suggested for mature audiences.

Wednesday, Feb. 15 

My Journey to City Hall: Lessons for Aspiring Young Politicians
The Department of Africology and African American Studies presents “My Journey to City Hall: Lessons for aspiring Young politicians,” a Black History Month presentation by Nicole Brown, mayor of Ypsilanti. The event will take place from noon to 2 p.m. in the Student Center, Room 320.

Wednesday, Feb.15 

Heal Humanity Now with Tomay Douglas
Participants will learn how compassion, awareness, reflexivity and equity can be used to facilitate critical conversations, deepen connections and increase positive outcomes with Tomay Douglas, an in-demand expert in restorative justice. The event will take place from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Student Center, Room 208.

Wednesday, Feb. 15

The Civil Rights and Social Justice Center presents, “A Conversation on Race, Policing, & Social Justice: Where Do We Go From Here?” a discussion with EMU alumnus Marques Banks. Banks serves as a staff attorney at the Advancement Project in Washington D.C. and as a volunteer for Law 4 Black Lives D.C. A panel discussion will follow featuring Natalie Holbrook, Michigan Criminal Justice Program; Dr. Aaron Rollins Jr., Peace, Justice, & Conflict Transformation Program, University of Louisville; Eleanore Ablan-Owens, Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice; and Rai Lanier, Michigan Liberation. The event takes place at 5 p.m. in the Student Center, Ballroom B.

Wednesday, Feb. 22 - Thursday, Feb. 23

Hip Hop Zumba
Join the Hip Hop Yoga Celebrating Black History and bringing awareness to Eating Disorder week. Learn about eating disorders and overcoming them, in addition to a free 90-minute Glow Zumba class. The event will take place in the REC-IM, room 127, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 5 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 23, at 3 p.m.


All are welcome to participate. For more event information, registration, and tickets, visit the Black History Month webpage.  

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

February 01, 2023

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher