University News

WIU Celebrates Black History Month

February 7, 2020


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MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University continues to celebrate Black History Month throughout February with a variety of activities and events.

This year's national theme is "African Americans and the Vote." WIU students have incorporated a campus theme of "The African American Experience: Pressing Forward."

All members of the WIU and Macomb community are welcome and invited to attend and participate in the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center's commemoration of Black History Month, which is the start to 365 days filled with opportunities for learning more about the Black experience and to promoting continuing conversation, growth, understanding and cooperation among and between all people and cultures.

"We want to continue the center's legacy of being there for all students as a place of learning and a place to create a sense of community for students," said Multicultural Center Program Coordinator Carl Ervin. "Knowledge is important and hate comes from ignorance. We want to share a shared sense of humanity."

Ervin, who came to WIU in December, said he wants to make sure the Multicultural Center remains student-focused, using the past as a guide, but not letting it limit what can be accomplished. He came to WIU after serving as the assistant director of the Office of Student Success at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.

Multicultural Center Events Administrator Jerome Halsey echoed Ervin's sentiments, saying he would like to "uplift, inspire, love, motivate and celebrate our students."

"I'd also like to help all of our students understand that the MCC is a place where they are loved and welcomed," he added.

Halsey, a WIU alumnus, also came to WIU in December.

The Black History Month schedule for the remainder of the month includes:

• Sunday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m., WIU Multicultural Center – Gala – The Cotton Club: The Cotton Club was an influential part of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920's-1940's. The Cotton Club Gala, sponsored by the National Association of Colored Women's Club (NACWC), pays homage to ancestors and all of their creative efforts during a time when their talents weren't appreciated.

Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m., WIU Multicultural Center – New Hampshire Primary Watch Party: In honor of the national theme for Black History Month, African Americans and the Vote, the Multicultural Center and the WIU Department of Political Science will offer a nonpartisan gathering spot to view, discuss and debate the U.S. Presidential primaries, voting rights and issues of the day. The party is sponsored by the WIU Multicultural Center and the WIU Department of Political Science.

Thursday, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m., University Union Heritage Room, "Why I Love Black Women" - WIU's student organization, Black Male Achievement Network (BMAN), will host its annual recognition and celebration of the African American woman.

Saturday, Feb. 15, 2 p.m. University Union Heritage Room – Mr. and Miss Africa Pageant: The African Student Association hosts an annual pageant to celebrate African aesthetics, culture and heritage. Contestants who best personify the African identity through excellence, achievements, African heritage and style are selected to participate. Contestants will represent different African countries. The winners stand a chance to win a $500 scholarship each. Admission is $5, which includes $2 in food from the Taste of Africa event.

• Saturday, Feb. 15, 5 p.m., Multicultural Center – Taste of Africa: Following the Mr. and Miss Africa Pageant, the African Student Association (ASA) will serve and array of African delicacies and cuisine prepared by African students.

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 5 p.m., Stipes Hall, room 121 – Mental Health Awareness: The Preeminent Gentlemen's Society will create a safe haven for students to come and discuss the importance of mental health, as well as learning early warning signs of mental health issues and ways to maintain positive mental health.

Thursday, Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., WIU Campus Recreation Center, 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament: The tournament will offer an opportunity to gather, mix, socialize and have fun as community members and allies, while enjoying a talent-filled and friendly intramural competition. Admission is a canned-good for the food pantry. The tournament is sponsored by the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center, the Black Student Association and the WIU Campus Recreation Center.

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 4 p.m., Multicultural Center – "Family Feud:": The Preeminent Ladies Society will showcase the popular game show "Family Feud," with questions about Black culture.

Thursday, Feb. 27, 6 p.m., Multicultural Center – Women of Color Workshop, facilitated by WIU alumna Tristen Johnson: WIU alumna, diversity and inclusion trainer and successful entrepreneur Tristen Johnson, who serves as the assistant director of Multicultural Affairs at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, returns to WIU to facilitate an interactive workshop and share her strategies for success and achievement for women of color at Predominately White Institutions. The event is sponsored by the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center, the WIU Women's Center and the Office of WIU Interim President Martin Abraham.

President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month a national observance in 1976, on both the 50th anniversary of the first iteration and America's bicentennial year.

"In celebrating Black History Month, we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history," said Ford.

For additional information on the Black History Month commemoration at Western Illinois University contact the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center at (309) 298-2220, or email gbcc@wiu.edu.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations