New events to spotlight black heritage

By Josh Albrecht

For 30 years, NIU has celebrated Black Heritage Month, and this year the celebration will focus on accomplishments of the past.

Van Amos, Center for Black Studies program coordinator, said the theme, “Remember the Times,” allows past celebrations to come alive through new festivities planned for this year. A number of new events have been added to the month-long schedule, such as a basketball tournament, a formal ball, a fish fry and the play “The Meeting,” about a conference between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the 1960s.

“We haven’t had a play of this importance in a long time,” Amos said. “… This will be truly an educational and cultural experience that can be celebrated by the university and surrounding communities.”

Black Heritage Month started as “Negro History Week” in February 1926 in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore schools, and since has become a nationwide event. Amos said the month is an important time to remember and bring to light the accomplishments of blacks in American history.

Too often, events like the Harlem Renaissance and the impact of blacks in the military have been forgotten by history books, but this month provides a platform for that history to come alive, he said.

“We’re trying to define who we are as it relates to being an American,” Amos said, “and to commemorate and celebrate blacks in America and worldwide.”

The 24th annual Black Art Show is one event embodying the meaning of Black Heritage Month. Black artists on campus have the opportunity to show works that are personal and cultural expressions.

“We are creating positive images and self-esteem as a nation of people in America,” Amos said.