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.”