Eastern Michigan University honors Black heritage through various Black History Month events

Illustration of a Black History Month February concept with stylized black/brown faces.

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University will delve into African Americans' vast history, past and present, with several events honoring cultural contributions, fostering dialogue, and promoting community engagement. These events hosted by the Center of Race and Ethnicity, the Division of Equity and Inclusion, and collaborating partners will offer insight experiences for the EMU community.

See the Black History Month calendar of events here

"In our quest for a more equitable future, the understanding of our shared past serves as the cornerstone upon which we construct lasting transformation," said Victor Okafor, head of the Department of Africology and African American Studies. "Through the celebration of African American history and accomplishments, we not only assert our right but also embrace our responsibility to keep our Black history alive."

The roots of Black History Month trace back to Carter G. Woodson, who founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 1915 to provide young African Americans a deeper understanding of their heritage and achievements. Over time, it gained momentum, with every U.S. president since 1975 honoring it as a time for all Americans to acknowledge African American achievements.

The 1970s advocacy for Black Studies at EMU was a significant milestone, leading to greater representation, relevant coursework, and a dedicated facility. EMU remains committed to diversity and inclusion, with Black students, faculty, and staff driving initiatives, including the 1995 establishment of the Center for Racial Justice and Inclusion and, most recently, the University’s Civil Rights and Social Justice Center, established in March 2022. Recent years have witnessed protests against police brutality and racial injustice, prompting ongoing efforts to ensure a more inclusive university community.

Eastern will honor the contributions and achievements of African Americans with the following events: 

Thursday, Feb. 1
In Defense of Democracy and Freedom: An evening of real-life cross-testimonies

In defense of Democracy and Freedom: An evening of real-life cross-testimonies on war experiences of African American veterans,” a Zoom-based Black History Month presentation. This event will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom at this link. More information about the panelists and speakers is available on the webpage.

Wednesday, Feb. 7
Eastern Michigan University welcomes celebrity fashion icon and alumna Desyrée Nicole for campus experience to kick off National Girls and Women in Sports Day

Eastern Michigan University celebrity fashion icon and alumna Desyrée Nicole plans to return to campus for a series of events to kick off EMU's annual celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, an observance held during the first week of February to commemorate progress towards equality in women's sports.  This event will happen from 3 to 8 p.m. For more information and a list of events during Desyrée Nicole’s visit, read more.

Friday, Feb. 9
Detroit trip to Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Join us for an educational trip to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Explore African Americans' vibrant heritage and rich contributions through captivating exhibits and powerful stories. An enriching experience for the EMU community to connect, learn, and celebrate this significant cultural legacy. A fee of $10 is required for registration, which includes transportation, admission, and lunch. Plan to meet at the Student Center Circle Drive at 9:30 a.m. The bus will leave promptly at 10 a.m. and return to campus at 4 p.m. Register here. If students need financial assistance, please email campuslife@emich.edu

Wednesday, Feb. 14
Lecture on "Cultural Hegemony & the American Experience: Towards an Understanding of the Afrocentric Epistemological Paradigm"

A Black History Month lecture by Professor Molefi Kete Asante from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Student Center, room 300. More information about panelists and speakers is available on the webpage.

Friday, Feb. 16
Soul Food and Spoken Word Night 2024

Join the Center of Race and Ethnicity and the Brotherhood Sisterhood Scholars Program as they celebrate the significance soul food, storytelling and spoken word, and has had on the Black community.  This event will kick off from 6 to 8 p.m. atEMU’s McKenny Ballroom. This event is free however, RSVP is required.

Friday, Feb. 16-18
Eastern Michigan University's Theatre presents, "Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea"

Eastern Michigan University Theatre presents a Nathan Alan Davis production, “Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea,” at the Legacy Theatre, located in the Judy Sturgis Hill Building at 1030 E. Circle Drive. The production is about an 18-year-old, Dontrell Jones III, who woke up from a dream convinced he needed to journey to the ocean. His ambitions are to connect with his long-lost ancestors, who were captured Africans during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Blending wordplay, humor, and ritual, this rhythmic journey is a present-day hero quest to explore the depths we must go to rewrite history's wrongs. Suggested for mature audiences. Tickets may be purchased online at emich.ludus.com, by phone at (734) 487-2282, or in person at the EMU ticket office in Judy Sturgis Hill. The production preview will happen on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb.16, and Saturday, Feb.17 a 7 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 18  at 2 p.m. 

For more information about EMU Theatre and "Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea", visit the EMU Theatre website

Friday, Feb. 22
Panel discussion on "Black Intifada: The Roots and Legacies of Black and Palestinian Solidarity"

An insightful panel discussion that uncovers the history and impact of Black and Palestinian solidarity. Discover shared struggles and activism, uncovering enduring connections between these movements. Gain a deeper understanding of global solidarity efforts and be inspired by the collaborative pursuit of justice. This event will happen in the Student Center Auditorium from 6 to 8 p.m.

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 13,000 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, 2024

Written by:
Brittany Mobley

Media Contact:
Brittany Mobley