(Posted January 17, 2018)

Courtesy: Step Afrika!

Courtesy: Step Afrika!

Juniata College is hosting a coordinated series of events to recognize and celebrate black history and culture. February is nationally recognized as Black History Month across the United States. The college’s events purposefully extend beyond the 28 days and into March.

An array of clubs and offices have plans for the College’s spring semester, which begin with a Jan. 22 Martin Luther King Convocation. All events are open to the public.

Matthew Damschroder, vice president for student life and dean of students, describes the planned events as “contributions from across the campus community that foster a more sophisticated understanding of identity, recognizing how people can experience more than one form of oppression related to their identity and how they react in those situations. The events all are intended to promote community-building and partnerships for social justice.”

Damschroder notes that the programming will provide a more comprehensive consideration of identity by taking into account intersectionality, which refers to the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to individuals or groups, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Events kick off on the first day of Juniata’s spring term, Jan. 22, with Juniata’s 26th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation. Keith Boykin will deliver a lecture, “This Is Your Future, What Will You Do With It?” at 4 p.m. in Rosenberger Auditorium, Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. Boykin is a New York Times bestselling author, the founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, and has appeared on multiple national television programs. In his presentation, he will address topics of intersectionality and privilege. Boykin believes that by recognizing the intersection of identity markers and noting where privilege is held, individuals can then use their privilege to serve others.

On Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m., the Juniata Activities Board will sponsor a performance by Step Afrika! at the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. Step Afrika! combines traditional African dance with other dance and art forms.

From Feb. 11-12, the College’s multicultural club, Plexus, and Juniata’s African American culture and advocacy club, UMOJA, will host former NFL player Johnathan Franklin. Franklin suffered a career-ending hit after being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2013, and has since explored his interests in politics and community outreach programs. Franklin will tell his story of coming to terms with his shifting identity with small groups on campus, and deliver a lecture open to the community. On Feb. 15, the Student Engagement and Campus Activities office at Juniata will provide a midnight screening of the Marvel movie Black Panther at the Clifton 5 Cinemas in downtown Huntingdon.      

Additionally, throughout the entire month of February campus buildings will display a poster series, “Celebrating Black LGBT Icons,” highlighting the importance of recognizing intersectional identities.

On Mar. 7, people will have two opportunities to attend “Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition,” as a part of Juniata’s Beyond Tolerance series. Ysaye M. Barnwell, an acclaimed singer, composer, author and teacher will present in Alumni Hall, Brumbaugh Academic Center, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

More events are being planned and will be announced throughout the semester. Damschroder states, “One month out of the year is simply not enough time to explore and celebrate the history of black culture and its social and cultural contributions, which are far too often overlooked. Our diversity, our knowledge of self and the other, and our critical curiosities make us a stronger and resilient campus community.”

For more information about events, or to see event details as new programming is announced, visit www.juniata.edu/blackhistory.

--Written by Savannah Parson ’18


Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.