As part of Indiana University's commitment to creating environments in which all students, faculty, and staff feel welcomed, the university is proud to honor the backgrounds and identities of the members of the community through heritage month celebrations. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA), IU's 2021 Black History Month (BHM) celebration includes various programming, such as discussion panels, lectures, musical performances, and much more.
The vast majority of these events are open to the entire IU community and its neighbors, everyone is encouraged to participate and learn more about the Black experience and its past, present, and future contributions to society.
The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center (NMBCC), administered by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, serves as host for many of the events held during Black History Month on the IU Bloomington campus. The theme for this year's celebration, "The Show Goes On," speaks to the resilience of a people who utilized some of their most valuable assets—creative and artistic expression—to overcome obstacles, navigate uncertain circumstances, and come out on top.
"Considering the difficult times faced since this time last year, we wanted this BHM to really illuminate the brilliance of Black people around the world," Gloria Howell, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, said. "What better way to do that than to showcase our contributions to the arts! When we think about the pandemic and the racial unrest in this country, we've seen so many artists respond and help our community heal through their gifts. This is not only true for high profile celebrities that we see in media and pop culture, but there are some incredibly talented students, faculty, and staff right here at IU. The arts are alive and well, and we want to celebrate that during BHM and throughout the year."
The NMBCC Black History Month Kickoff featured a moderated virtual conversation with the legendary Shelly Clark White of the R&B-Soul sensation Honey Cone and Verdine White, bassist for the incomparable Earth, Wind, and Fire. The pair discussed their lives and musical careers and shared musical clips with the audience. This event was in partnership with the city of Bloomington and featured a statement from Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, including a proclamation declaring February 1 Verdine and Shelly Clark White Day. Additionally, IU Bloomington junior Ky Freeman received the first Clarence “Rollo” Turner Beyond Boundaries Award from the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. The city of Bloomington awarded James Sims with the 2021 Black History Month Visionary Leadership Award.
Additional events for Black History Month include:
- Race, Caste, and Inequality: A Conversation with Isabel Wilkerson on February 17 at 9:30 a.m.
- Black Table Talk: Lunch and Learn featuring Professor Alisha Lola Jones, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, on February 17 at 11:45 a.m.
- BOOKed and Busy: Black Culture Center Reading Circle on February 23 at 6:30 p.m., where participants will discuss Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. This event is in partnership with Black culture centers at Purdue University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the University of New Mexico.
- Black Knowledge Bowl on February 24 at 7 p.m. In partnership with the O'Neill School's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, teams compete against one another, answering Black IU trivia in this signature NMBCC event.
For more information about Indiana University's Black History Month celebrations, visit the IU calendar here. And please be sure to visit the NMBCC’s Black History Month webpage, and discover reading lists, a Black History Month Playlist, virtual backgrounds, and more!