Throughout February, Indiana University recognizes Black History Month with events and programming designed to honor the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans in the nation’s history.
“Black History Month is a time for students, faculty, staff and others to reflect on the legacy of African Americans,” says James C. Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership. “The activities planned on IU’s campuses will allow everyone to learn more about Black history and better understand the great impact African Americans have had in this country.”
Scholar, activist and author Carter G. Woodson conceived Black History Month. Born in Virginia in 1875 to formerly enslaved parents, Woodson overcame countless obstacles in his pursuit of education. Largely self-taught, he began high school at the age of 20 and completed his degree in less than two years. Woodson worked as a teacher and a school principal before obtaining a bachelor's degree in literature from Berea College in Kentucky. In addition to earning a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, he became the second Black American, after W.E.B. Du Bois, to obtain a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He later became a professor at Howard University.
In 1926, Woodson launched the first Black History Week in the second week of February to coincide with the births of former President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery. Woodson’s initial concept was eventually expanded into Black History Month. And, since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
IU’s Black History Month celebration includes a variety of special programming, discussion panels, lectures, musical performances, film screenings, and other activities on each of its campuses. Most of these events are free and open to the entire IU community. Here is a sampling of what you can expect.
- IU Bloomington Black History Month Kickoff: A Celebration of the Black Cinema, on Wednesday, January 31, at 6 p.m., at the Black Film Center and Archive. BFCA Director Novotny Lawrence will discuss the Blaxploitation Movement and its lasting influence on contemporary pop culture. Come dressed in your 1970s threads as an ode to the movement. Archival items specially curated for the event will be displayed throughout the BFCA. Visit the NMBCC’s Black History Month webpage to learn about IU Bloomington’s theme and month-long programming.
- IUPUI in partnership with the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and Johnson & Johnson, will host Celebrating IU Blackness & Health Equity in 2024, February 23, 5:30 - 8:00 pm, at the Madam Walker Legacy Center. Heavy appetizers will be served.
- IU East Lunch and Learn: Black Legacy Project of Wayne County on Wednesday, February 28, at Noon, in the library (Hayes 142). Director and Founder Marlene Lindsey will discuss the evolution of the project and share often unknown stories about the contributions of Blacks in Wayne County. The event is free and open to the public.
- IU Kokomo showcases their Equality Project photo exhibit from February 19 through 29, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at the IU Kokomo Art Gallery, 2300 S. Washington Street, Alumni Hall, in the Library Building. Admission and parking are free.
- IU Northwest partners with the NAACP to host the Act-SO Talent Extravaganza on February 17 at 4 p.m. CST in the Savannah Center. Come out and support NWI local youth as they showcase their talents in STEM, Humanities, Entrepreneurship, and Performing & Visual Arts. The event is free and open to the public.
- IU South Bend displays “Unmasked: The Anti-Lynching Exhibits of 1935 and Community Remembrance in Indiana” from February 6 through 16 at the Civil Rights Heritage Center. A powerful limited-time exhibition that shows two competing artistic responses to racial violence during the 1930s, with lessons for our world today. The opening event is February 6, from 6 to 7:30 pm.