Springfield, Ohio – Wittenberg University has always celebrated Black History Month with a variety of activities, and 2008 is no exception. This year’s calendar ranges from a Battle of the Sexes game show to a performance by the world-renowned Jabali Afrika Dance Troupe.
All events are sponsored by Multicultural Student Programs, Concerned Black Students (CBS) and Africana Studies, and the month-long series kicked off with a Battle of the Sexes game show on Feb. 11 in the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning. Battle of the Sexes involved a question-and-answer game show format that included a panel of students, Director of Multicultural Student Programs Forest Wortham and Associate Professor of English/Director of Africana Studies Carmiele Wilkerson.
The month continues with the much-anticipated performance and workshop by the Jabali Afrika Dance Troupe, hailing from Kenya. The performance, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, in Bayley Auditorium, Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center, will be an interactive show lasting well over an hour, during which the group will pull students from the audience to dance, sing or play instruments along with the group. The workshop will begin after the show where the performers will discuss the group’s heritage, how its instruments are made and the significance behind them, followed by a question-and-answer session, which will conclude the event.
Jabali Afrika has appeared on CNN, Lifestyle, MTV, Good Morning America, BET and in Billboard Magazine. Performances include such venues as the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Marley Magic Tour, and the United Radio and Television Network of Afrika Awards, among others.
“The band’s original sound is attributed to its own unique mixture and special fusion of African rhythms,” Wortham said. “This is a truly multi-faceted band whose members are not only adept at composing songs, playing a variety of instruments and blending their voices into a harmonious sound, but they are also talented dancers and choreographers. The band's origin can be traced to the Kenya National Theatre Dance Troupe.”
The next event on the calendar will be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Workshop, aimed at both students and community members, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Shouvlin Center. According to Wortham, the event was included because many students simply don’t know how to fill out a FAFSA. The workshop is run by Concerned Black Students (CBS) with assistance from Wittenberg’s Office of Financial Aid.
Wittenberg is also trying something new, the Dream Out Loud Program, during the annual CBS Weekend. Beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in 105 Shouvlin Center, two members of the local Springfield community, Duane Ellington and Maurice Stinnett, will present a program that combines singing, film, poetry, instrumental performances and speakers.
“[The Dream Out Loud Program] is to get young people to understand from where African Americans come, and where they can go,” Wortham said. “If we all take a look at the struggles that each ethnic group has had, we see that we all have some of the same aspirations.”
A recurring event of Black History Month will be the Black Knowledge Conference, titled “Alumni Giving Back,” from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, in 105 Shouvlin. The conference will include three workshops and a wrap-up. African American alumni will participate, sharing what they learned from their Wittenberg experience, how they got jobs after graduation, and what they wished they had known in college.
“It will be alumni giving to members of the Witt community,” Wortham said.
Students will also have a chance to express themselves at a poetry slam in honor of Black History Month, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Wally’s Pub, located in the lower level of the Benham-Pence Student Center. Students are encouraged to “Read it, Speak it, or Just Listen,” which is the slogan of the night.
The month closes with the Celebrating Women of Color program titled “Woman: The Emotional Barometer” from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in Ness Family Auditorium, Hollenbeck Hall. The keynote speaker for the event will be Sonya McCollum, visiting professor from Columbia Union College, and the event, sponsored by Africana Studies, is co-sponsored by Women’s Studies, Multicultural Student Programs and CBS.
“The event is one that I initiated at Wittenberg when I first joined the faculty in 2000,” said Wilkerson, who organized the event.
“The purpose of the event is to ‘bridge’ Black History Month and Womyn’s Month, [to] create a connection. The event is not exclusive to black women; the term ‘women of color’ is meant to be inclusive to all women. The event is also not exclusive to women.”
Written By: Rachel Morgan '08
Send a Message
• Book-Delivering Prof Named Ohio Professor of the Year
• Senior Class Selects Livestrong President & CEO Doug Ulman As 2011 Commencement Speaker
•Communication Program Honored Nationally With Top Award
• Wittenberg University Art Students Finalists For Scholarship Award