Student groups, cultural centers, and other organizations around campus have planned events to commemorate Black History Month.
UMOJA, Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, and the African American Resource Center, among others, have planned events ranging from speaker series and panels to musical performances and shared meals for the month.
Makuu started its festivities with a kickoff lunch and will continue its programming throughout the entire month, culminating in a closing dinner on Feb. 28. In the coming weeks, Makuu — which is collaborating with Platt Performing Arts House, La Casa Latina, and Penn Alumni Relations — will host a dinner and career talk with 2014 College graduate Kalyne Coleman, a performance by Step Afrika!, a Makuu x Penn Fund philanthropy event, and a Black music conversation with Dr. Guy Ramsey.
According to Makuu Associate Director S. Craig, following a theme of "past, present, and future,” Makuu will also highlight members of Black Penn on social media platforms.
“We will be touching on different elements of the Black diaspora related to Penn. One thing that’s important to note is that Blackness is not a monolith,” Makuu Associate Director S. Craig said. “There are multiple ways of expressing and embodying Blackness as a Black person at Penn.”
Makuu is located in the ARCH building, where a new mural was recently installed for Black History Month. The mural features influential members of the Black Penn community and showcases an illustration by a Black alumnus of the University alongside photographs highlighting the history and activism of Black Penn.
Craig added that they further call upon Penn to recognize its history and origins in Philadelphia, specifically in Black Philadelphia.
“[I would love to see] more uplifting and acknowledgment of Black Philadelphia as the backbone for the University. And we are doing that from our center’s perspective, but it would be nice to see that even more so from a University-central aspect,” Craig said.
In addition to its own programming, Makuu is highlighting events planned by student groups, such as UMOJA, which is part of the 7B. The 7B is Penn's minority coalition.
"During this time we prioritize highlighting the work of our student organizations and collaborating with different groups to promote community between us, Makuu, the Black student groups and the other Black centers on campus,” College juniors and co-chairs of UMOJA Tarah Paul and Taussia Boadi wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
W.E.B. DuBois College House, University Life, Penn Libraries, Kelly Writers House and the Department of Sociology are other groups hosting events in celebration of Black History Month.
Earlier this month, a panel discussion with the AARC and the Division of Public Safety took place, which focused on inequities in police treatment regarding the Black community. AARC has also hosted its second and final installment of its "King the Preacher" series, which highlighted the role of faith in social justice and Martin Luther King Jr.’s activism.
Looking ahead, AARC’s Alliance for Understanding program begins during Black History Month, taking place over the course of 5 weeks and culminating in a trip to Alabama to visit the sites important to the Civil Rights Movement. The Alliance and Understanding course is a collaboration with the Greenfield Intercultural Center and Penn Hillel.
“We really take a lot of pride in being able to partner with the other cultural centers,” said Darin Toliver, AARC's associate director.
AARC will inaugurate its Harold J. Haskins Lecture Series on Feb. 23 with speaker Joanne Bland, a community activist who was present on Bloody Sunday during the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. Toliver hopes to see participation from the Penn community in all of AARC’s programming, but particularly in the lecture series.
“I think it’ll be very powerful, very impactful, having her talk to the Penn community and giving us a valuable piece of Black history,” Toliver said. “Black history is also American history.”