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Celebrating African and African-American Culture

Black History Month events include guest artists and speakers, a film, stage works and more

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January 27, 2012 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A one-night-only concert by celebrated South African musician Hugh Masekela and his band, a discussion of the black power movement on college campuses in the 1960s, a stage adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" and a lecture by the author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" are among the events on Northwestern University's Black History Month docket.

The monthlong festivities will kick off on the Evanston campus with a cultural festival of African and African-American song, music, dance and food. Chicago campus programs will include a series of panel discussions and a screening of an award-winning documentary about Bayard Rustin, "the unknown hero" of the civil rights movement.

The following are some of the events planned for Black History Month. Unless noted otherwise, they are free and open to the public.

EVANSTON CAMPUS

• Harambee Celebration 2012, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, Louis Room, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive. “Harambee” -- which means “pull together” in Swahili -- is an annual cultural festival that features traditional soul, Cajun/Creole, Caribbean and Ethiopian food, song and dance performances by students and special guests and the presentation of the Gardner-Exum Scholarship. Established in 1986, the scholarships are awarded to black Northwestern students who combine academic excellence with their campus and community leadership. The event is sponsored by African American Student Affairs and For Members Only and supported by the Student Activities Funding Committee.

“The Bluest Eye,” by Lydia R. Diamond, based on a novel by Toni Morrison, directed by Rives Collins, at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27; 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29; 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Adapted by award-winning Northwestern alumna Lydia R. Diamond from Morrison’s acclaimed debut novel of the same name, “The Bluest Eye” is a poignant tale of the struggle for identity. It tells the story of a young African-American girl who yearns for the blue eyes that she believes will make her beautiful and ease her hardships. Exploring race, class, self-esteem and violence against women, “The Bluest Eye” was commissioned in 2005 through the Steppenwolf for Young Adults and the New Plays Initiative. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors, Northwestern faculty and staff, and area educators; and $10 for full-time students with IDs. Five dollar tickets are available exclusively to Northwestern students with valid IDs on advance ticket purchases only. Tickets for groups of eight or more are $8 to $22 each. For tickets, call (847) 491-7282 or visit www.tic.northwestern.edu. A post-show discussion with guest artists and Northwestern faculty and staff will follow each performance. Diamond will host the discussion following the Feb. 2 performance and award-winning Evanston playwright Gloria Bond Clunie (“North Star”) will host the discussion following the Jan. 27 performance. The discussions are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of post-show discussion hosts, visit www.tic.northwestern.edu.

Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow” Lecture and Book Signing, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, Harris Hall, Room 107, 1881 Sheridan Rd. Alexander’s highly praised book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” published in fall 2010, has sparked conversation about ways mass incarceration has come to resemble forms of racial control of a different era.

“The Sweet Goddess Project,” 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, Ballroom Theater of the Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center, 10 Arts Circle Drive. “The Sweet Goddess Project” is a multimedia dance theater work that explores the experiences of women in Chicago House music. Performers and choreographers Meida McNeal, Abra Johnson and Boogie McClarin will clap, stomp and groove to “House” music as they retell the history of a community, a culture, a lifestyle and the experiences of young, urban people of color and varied sexual preferences through movement and spoken word. A pastiche of sonic styles, Chicago House music emerged in the Windy City in the early 1980s and is a reflection of disco, gospel, funk, rhythm ‘n’ blues, punk, new wave, Euro-pop, salsa, Afro-beat and industrial percussion. Chicago House disc jockey Jo de Presser’s live set creates the sonic backdrop. For more information, visit www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2012/01/sweet-goddess-project.html. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $12 for seniors and Northwestern students with IDs. For advance tickets, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/217376. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door prior to the concerts. The performances are hosted by the Northwestern School of Communication’s dance program.

MSA INC: The Black Revolution on Campus featuring Martha Biondi, noon, Wednesday, Feb. 8, University Hall, Room 201, 1897 Sheridan Road. The black power movement left its mark in numerous ways on college campuses around the nation, including Northwestern. Biondi, associate professor of African American studies at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will share her groundbreaking research, taking a fresh look at how this important period of American history helped shape some of our country’s finest minds. Lunch will be provided at an interactive question-and-answer session. The event is sponsored by Northwestern’s departments of African American studies and multicultural student affairs.

Controversial Blackness Series, Faculty Panel, Black Justice: "Is the American prison system the New Jim Crow?", 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, Room 107. Presented by the undergraduate students of the African American studies department and co-sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Theta Alpha Chapter.

Roland Pattillo, M.D., and The History of HeLa Cell Use in Biomedical Research, noon, Tuesday, Feb. 14, McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive. Pattillo, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecologic oncology at the Morehouse School of Medicine, was one of George Gey’s students at Johns Hopkins University. Gey was the researcher who grew the first HeLa cells taken during a biopsy when Henrietta Lacks was being treated for cervical cancer. These cultured cells gave rise to the HeLa cell line. For more information about this event, the importance of HeLa cells and the University’s One Book, One Northwestern selection, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” visit www.northwestern.edu/onebook.

Controversial Blackness Series, Student Panel, Black Health: Institutional or Cultural Problem?, 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, Harris Hall, Room 107. Presented by the undergraduate students of the African American studies department and co-sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Gamma Chi Chapter.

Guest artist Hugh Masekela, “The Jabulani Tour,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive. Legendary composer and instrumentalist (trumpet, flugelhorn and cornet) Hugh Masekela has long been a major player on the international jazz, pop and world music scenes as well as a champion of human rights in his native South Africa. Perhaps best known for his 1968 hit “Grazing in the Grass,” he has collaborated with superstars Bob Marley, Herb Alpert, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. On tour with his high-energy band of South African musicians to promote his forthcoming album “Jabulani,” Masekela will present a program of pop, jazz, ballads and traditional South African music. He also will conduct workshops for Northwestern’s jazz studies and trumpet students while he is on campus as part of a residency. Tickets are $18 for the general public and $10 for full-time students with IDs. For tickets, call (847) 467-4000 or visit www.pickstaiger.org.

Controversial Blackness Series Lecture by D. Soyini Madison, 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive. D. Soyini Madison is a School of Communication professor of performance studies with appointments in Northwestern University's departments of African American studies and anthropology. She is the author of "Acts of Activism: Human Rights as Radical Performance."

For more on these and other events, visit the department of multicultural student affairs’ Black History Month February calendar at www.northwestern.edu/msa/calendar_events/index.html or Northwestern’s online calendar Plan-It Purple at www.planitpurple.northwestern.edu.

“A Beautiful Struggle: Transformative Black Studies in Shifting Political Landcapes,” April 12 to 14. Northwestern University will host the first conference ever to bring together faculty and students from the nation’s black studies doctoral programs. For more information, email afas@northwestern.edu, visit www.afam.northwestern.edu or call (847) 491-5122.

CHICAGO CAMPUS

Northwestern’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) will host a series of talks and panel discussions that address issues affecting law students and a film screening of an award-winning documentary about Bayard Rustin.

All but one of the following BLSA Chicago campus events will take place in the Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave., and one event will be held in the atrium of Levy-Meyer Hall, 357 E. Chicago Ave., as noted.

“Religion in the Black Community,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, Rubloff Building, Room 150.

“Demographics of Declining Black Chicago – Reverse Great Migration?” noon to 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, Rubloff, Room 150.

• HistoryMakers event with Julieanna Richardson, noon to 1:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, Rubloff, Room 140. With a background in television and law, Richardson is the founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers. Her goal is to complete 5,000 interviews of both well-known and unsung African-American makers of history.

• The Education of Disposable Populations in a Wayward Society, noon to 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, Rubloff, Room 180. Speaker Garrett Albert Duncan is associate professor of education in arts and sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He has published extensively on black youth, identity, language and ethics. Professor Duncan will discuss his larger project, "Schooling as a Moral Enterprise," which examines the moral and political aspects of the education of black students in post-civil rights North America. The project is largely concerned with race, citizenship and democracy in the context of post-industrialism and globalization, and how these forces fuel the so-called "school-to-prison pipeline." Lunch will be provided.

• Film screening of “Brother Outsider,” 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, Rubloff, Room 150. Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and its national broadcasts on PBS and on Logo/MTV, the multi award-winning documentary “Brother Outsider” has introduced millions of viewers worldwide to the life and work of civil rights strategist Bayard Rustin. A tireless activist who has been called “the unknown hero” of the American civil rights movement, disciple of Gandhi, mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. and architect of the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin dared to live as an openly gay man during the fiercely homophobic 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

A reception in the Lowden Lobby will follow the screening.

• Soul Food Lunch, noon, Wednesday, Feb. 8, Levy-Meyer Atrium, 375 E. Chicago Ave.

Local Black Politicians Panel, “Challenges Within the Black Community,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, Rubloff, Room 140.

For more on these and other BLSA events, email blsa@law.northwestern.edu.