Black History Month Events Emphasize Culture, Academics, Service — and the Future

  • Department of Africana Studies Chair Theresa White poses with three students at a table celebrating the Black Panther Breakfast program.

    As a tribute to the Black Panther Breakfast Program, CSUN's Black House gives out free breakfast to passersby outside the Sierra Tower on Feb. 12, 2020. The Black House took inspiration from the Black Panther Party, founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seal in 1966 in response to economic and social inequality and police brutality in Oakland. The Black Panthers established the "Free Breakfast for Children Program" in 1969, one of more than 35 "survival programs" established by the organization. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity members perform behind red smoke.

    Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity members perform at the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) yardshow on Feb. 13. The event is designed to increase awareness of black Greek organizations on campus, where members preform percussive dances, showing off what makes each of them unique. Three of the nine historically African American Greek organizations in the NPHC have chapters at CSUN — Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Zeta Phi Beta sorority. NPHC members from other campuses also performed at the CSUN yardshow. Photo by Christopher Castaneda.

  • State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) spoke at an event which stressed the importance of black students exercising their right to vote.

    State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) speaks at an event which stressed the importance of black students exercising their right to vote. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • David Oyelow as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma on a large screen over an orchestra.

    Ava DuVernay's "Selma" screens at The Soraya, with live orchestra accompaniment. Photo by Luis Luque | Luque Photography

  • Ava DuVernay speaks at a podium at The Soraya at CSUN.

    Ava DuVernay speaks at a screening and live orchestra performance of the score of her Academy Award-nominated film "Selma" at The Soraya. Photo by Luis Luque | Luque Photography

  • Donzaleigh Abernathy speaks at the exhibit “From Selma to Montgomery,” a series of photographs.

    Donzaleigh Abernathy, a civil rights activist whose father, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, was a civil rights leader and friend of Martin Luther King Jr., speaks at the exhibit “From Selma to Montgomery,” a series of photographs taken by social activist John Kouns. Photo by Luis Luque | Luque Photography

  • Kenneth Senegal, the social media influencer who uses the handle HeFlawless, speaks at the CSUN Black House.

    Kenneth Senegal, the social media influencer who created the YouTube channel HeFlawless, presented "Get Ready with Me," with tips for students to learn to love themselves, at the CSUN Black House. The event was part of a week of activities for Black Queer and Trans Pride Week. Photo by Christopher Castenada.

  • Africana Studies department chair Theresa White, academic advisor James Henry and three full-time faculty members — Aimee Glocke, Sheba Lo and Tom Spencer-Walters — hold "Africana Studies: Why Haven’t YOU Declared? Getting to Know the Africana Studies Discipline," a panel for students considering declaring an Africana studies major/minor. Photo by Cy Shafii.

  • Two students and an alumna sit in chairs in front of a large projector screen, speaking to an audience.

    BUILD PODER seniors Natalie Dahan (right) and Savannah Elahian (left) and alumna and BUILD recruiter Alina Adamian ’15 (Microbiology), M.S. ’17 (Biology) help lead a panel discussion, “Incorporating Diversity in the Sciences,” as part of Black History Month, on Feb. 13, 2020. Photo by David J. Hawkins.

  • A man and a woman look at framed, vintage film posters by legendary filmmakers Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone.

    Attendees peruse an exhibit of film posters from the late filmmaker John Singleton's personal collection, on Feb. 20, 2020, in Manzanita Hall. CSUN's Department of Cinema and Television Arts presented the exhibit, "John Singleton and the Auteurs that Inspired Him: An A and B Conversation." Photo by Christopher Castaneda.

CSUN celebrated Black History Month with nearly 40 events across campus, highlighting aspects of the history, culture and contributions of people of Black descent with an eye toward a bright future.

Led by the Department of Africana Studies and the Black House, multiple CSUN departments and organizations marked the occasion, including the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, the Department of Deaf Studies, the Black Student Leadership Council, the Black Student Union, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the CSUN Library, the Department of Kinesiology, BUILD PODER, the Pride Center, and the Department of Cinema and Television Arts.

The Department of Africana Studies and the Black House team held events that honored the past, such as a tribute to the Black Panther Breakfast program that fed tens of thousands of children across the country beginning in 1969. The department also looked to the future, partnering with BUILD PODER for a panel on increasing diversity in the sciences. In an effort to increase voter participation among African American students, Africana Studies and the Black House presented “Your Vote DOES Matter.” Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) and civil rights activist Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of the late civil rights leader Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, gave talks about the historical fight for voting rights and the critical importance of exercising them.

The department also celebrated spoken word poetry with famed poet Rudy Francisco, who promotes healthy dialogue, discourse and social change. He has shared the stage with prominent artists including Jill Scott, Gladys Knight, Jordin Sparks and Musiq Soul Child — and now with CSUN students.

Other events included a showing of the Academy Award-nominated film “Selma,” which was accompanied by a live score from New West Symphony that included the score’s composer, Jason Moran, and conductor Cheche Alara, who has composed for several TV series and conducted multiple Latin Grammy ceremonies. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who directed the film, attended and spoke at the event.

On Feb. 20, CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts (CTVA) unveiled an exhibit of film posters from the personal collection of the late filmmaker John Singleton. Among those in attendance at the event was Sheila Ward, Singleton’s mother and chief executive of New Deal Productions (Singleton’s production company) and actress Angela Bassett. CTVA also screened two of Singleton’s movies, “Poetic Justice” and “Boyz N the Hood.”

CTVA partnered with Africana studies for the screening of the documentary film “And I Danced,” about the dancers who have made hip-hop music videos shine over the years, including a Q&A with writer and director Chris “Play” Martin from Kid N Play.

The various events were a celebration of the past and present, as well as a call to action for a better future.

“The month was filled with celebratory events that offered a plethora of opportunities that brought light and up-leveled our theme of “Voices & Visions: Black Future 2020,” said Theresa White, chair of the Department of Africana Studies. “The campus community was successful in offering ways in which we visualized and gave voice to our collective, healthy black futures — a future steeped in black joy, creativity, political astuteness, love, healing and restorative justice.”

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