Black History Month 2023 Recap
In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized the first celebration of Black History Week. The scholar quickly disproved doubts that he could muster enough Black history to last more than 2-3 days and pushed for the expansion of the celebration to a month.
Black History Month provides a unique lens to view the Black American experience from the perspective of Blacks. Such a perspective humanizes the dehumanized, centers the marginalized, and provides dignity to a people who were once deemed uneducable and denied their inalienable rights.
Black History Month celebrates the victory of all Americans when we value the voices of those who were historically perceived as the least. It symbolizes the possibility of America living up to its democratic principles by recognizing the experiences and contributions of Blacks whose ancestors arrived by force and in chains to the New World.
This year Africana Studies partnered with the Multicultural Center, Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Eagle Entertainment, Sorority and Fraternity Life and the departments of history, anthropology, and modern languages and literature to host a series of events for members of the campus and community to come together and learn and celebrate.
Black Owned Business Pop-Up Shop
This event welcomed black owned businesses to campus to sell their products and/or set up a table to promote their businesses.
The Easterner wrote a great story about the event.
Food from the Diaspora – Africa
The Africana Studies program brought authentic cuisine from Eastern and Western Africa to campus for all to enjoy. Everyone got to enjoy amazing authentic Ethiopian-Eritrean food such as injera (pancake-like flatbread), Spice chicken stew (door wot), salad, lentil stews (misir wot), kiki wot (split pea stew), and many more dishes. And from Nigeria, they experienced seasoned oven baked chicken with jollaf rice and collard greens.
The Easterner wrote a great story about the event.
Sydney Guillaume – Haitian Music Composer
The Africana Studies Program partnered with the Music Program to welcome Haitian music composer Sydney Guillaume to Spokane where he performed a commissioned piece with the Spokane Symphony at the Fox Theatre.
In addition, Sydney returned in March to talk with EWU students in multiple classrooms about overcoming many challenges as a Black Haitian musician and shared his unique life experiences and perspectives.
Sydney’s visit was covered by KHQ: Sydney Guillaume Performs at the Fox Theater
Learn more about Sydney and his trip to Spokane in this article by the Spokesman Review: Spokane Symphony will perform world premiere of a new work by Portland composer Sydney Guillaume
Dr. Bettina Love – Living a Hip Hop and Abolitionist Life
Dr. Love discussed how Hip-Hop Civics Ed, when linked to the framework of intersectionality and abolitionist teaching, creates a space where Black lives matter and analytic sensibilities are nurtured to engage youth in the work of fighting for visibility, inclusion and justice.
Her talk ended by calling for us all to not only teach students about racial violence, oppression and how to make sustainable change in their communities through innovative and radical civic curriculum, but also to expose youth to the possibilities that come with envisioning a world built on Black Joy, creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.
In addition to an amazing presentation by Dr. Bettina Love, Angela Schwendiman Recognized for Her Outstanding Work at EWU
Dr. Bettina Love – Respect the Process: Examining Our Social Justice Perspectives
This event was open to faculty and staff and through interactive activities, this workshop helped participants examine their own perspectives of their social justice work and ideas about diversity, privilege and intersectionality. Participants gained a better understanding of how institutional power that reproduces injustice, social exclusion and oppression, despite our best efforts, is embedded in our social justice work.
The Cheney Free Press wrote about Dr. Love’s visit: EWU hosts Abolitionist Bettina Love for Black History Month
And KHQ interview Dr. Love and participants of the events: Eastern Washington University hosts guest speaker for Black History Month
Divine 9 Panel
Co-hosted by the Black Student Union Club, members of the nine historically Black Greek Letter Organizations spoke and answered questions about how the Divine 9 can be brought back to EWU’s campus.
First Generation Black Student Panel
A panel of four current EWU students talked about their experience here at Eastern as Black students, and their stories on the trials and tribulations that they have gone through and have faced as first-generation students.
African American Black Experience – The Role of Social Movements in Shaping Black Identity with Angela Schwendiman
For centuries, social movements have shaped and characterized Black identity and the African American experience. In the 21st century, people of African descent seek social justice and racial equality by establishing community and fostering activism through social media. Angela Schwendiman talk explores social movements and social media as mechanisms to dismantle systemic racism and redefine Blackness and Black identity as a collective experience.
Attendee Paul Merchant from IT wrote: “It should have been at least 2 hours long, however. I would have enjoyed more stories…there is something hopeful, at least to me, in being told of a movement that cherishes individual liberties (cherishes them to the point of recognizing that free markets are a part of individual liberties)”
Every year, Africana Studies ends Black History Month with a silent auction where all donations go towards student scholarships and other educational programming for our students. We want to thank the Cheney, Spokane, and EWU Communities, as well as other businesses around the state of Washington and Idaho — for donating items to be auctioned off.
We had Seattle Mariners Tickets, golf course passes, tattoo certificates and more! Every year we get a number of donations and we look forward to seeing what comes in next year!
Next Year Thoughts/ Support Africana Studies from Program Director Angela Schwendiman.
What a delight it was this year to have scholar/activist Dr. Bettina Love as the keynote speaker for Black History Month. She passionately shared her knowledge and wisdom of the cultural contributions and historical influences of African traditions to Black American joy and survival. Dr. Love’s presence was an example of how Eastern Washington University provides opportunities for transformative experiences to the public.
Next year, Africana Studies hopes to continue to bring quality guest speakers and talented artists from the Black community, food from the African diaspora, participation from local Black vendors for the pop-up shop, the annual Silent Auction, and more for our Black History Month celebration. All of this requires the continued support of our campus partners as well as donations from alumni and community supporters.
We encourage everyone to visit the Africana Studies Program website, check out our features and course offerings, and make a pledge of support. No contribution is too small to help provide culturally enriching events for Black History Month and throughout the year.