January 31, 2013 | Myrna Anderson

Throughout February, the Calvin community will feature four events in celebration of Black History Month.

The Calvin community is invited to four February events planned in celebration of Black History Month by the multicultural student development office (MSDO).

The first event, “Who is Black in America,” is a screening of an episode of CNN’s “Black in America” series. The episode explores “colorism,” a form of racism that gives preference to lighter-skinned people of any race. “This isn’t just an African-American thing,” said MSDO program coordinator Ebonie Atkins, “You can see it in Mexico. You can see it in African countries, where lighter-skinned people are given more privileges.” The screening will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall.

Next on the schedule is history professor Eric Washington’s presentation “Abraham Lincoln: Saving the Union, Freeing the Slaves.” Washington will talk about the Dred Scott decision, the debate between Lincoln and Frederick Douglass,  the push for the 14th Amendment and Lincoln’s pivotal role in the abolition of slavery. “He’s going to talk about the tension Lincoln felt in being against slavery when half the country was for it,” Atkins said. The presentation will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 in North Hall 078.

Seminal events

Later in the month, students from the multicultural student advisory board will present “1963: A Year to Remember.” A commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the landmark year of the civil rights movement, the presentation will highlight several events of 1963—the assassination of Medgar Evers, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the assassination of John F. Kennedy—that changed the fight for civil rights. The traditional soul food buffet will follow the event, held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 18 in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall.

The final official Black History Month event will be a lecture by Meredith Roman, a professor of history at College of Brockport, State University of New York. Titled “Keepin’ It Real: African Americans and the Promise of Soviet Anti-Racism in the 1920s and 1930s,” the talk will focus on a pioneering group of African Americans who integrated the Lenin School in Moscow in 1931. “I think this presentation will be interesting because we don’t often get to hear European views on the racism in the midwest,” Atkins said. The lecture will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in North Hall 078.

Atkins is looking forward to Calvin’s annual celebration of black history: “There’s a rich culture and heritage that African Americans have that we need to know more about … ,” she said. “Knowing it, we’ll know more about how African Americans have survived in this culture, have thrived in this culture, have had hope for their lives.” It’s important to know more than milestones of the era, she stressed: “There are many events that we know about that are highlighted: the March on Washington, the signing of the Civil Rights Act. But there are also little snippets of culture that we need to know about.”

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