February 04, 2011 | Myrna Anderson

Calvin departments have collaborated on an array of events for Black History Month.

In celebration of Black History Month, Calvin’s offices of multicultural student development (MSDO) and multicultural affairs (MAO) are co-sponsoring events with the CAS, history, music and English departments.

“I’m excited to be working so closely with multicultural affairs,” said MSDO assistant dean Jacque Rhodes, “but I’m particularly excited about working with our academic departments.”

First up is a collaboration with the communication arts and sciences (CAS) department as CAS professor Andrea Kortenhoven speaks on black language: “From Spoken Soul to Hip Hop: Language in Black America” starting at 3: 30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 9 in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall.

The lecture examines how black vernacular and Ebonics have influenced contemporary black English. “Much of the language in the black community today has roots that can be traced back to Africa ... ,” said Ebonie Atkins, assistant in the office of multicultural affairs.  “Professor Kortenhoven will give a history of Ebonics and why it is prevalent in black culture.” The presentation will be followed by a poetry jam at 8 p.m. in the Fish House. “All of the poetry that is read will be from Calvin students,” Atkins said of the annual event.

On noon on Wednesday, Feb. 16, history professor Eric Washington will examine the church’s role in racism in a lecture titled: “The Most Segregated Hour: the History of the African-American Church.” The lecture will accompany a luncheon in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall. (Those interested in attending the luncheon should contact Ebonie Atkins at era@calvin.edu.)

At 3:30 p.m. on that day, the music department’s Benita Wolters-Fredlund will make a presentation in the Commons Lecture Hall on “How the Blues Changed the World: A Brief History of African-American Music Through Song.” “Professor Wolters-Fredlund will (use) various spoken pieces, video and sound clips to explore how black music has evolved from slave times until now,” said Atkins.

The celebration continues with “A Taste of Soul,” a sampling of soul food and African-American poetry led by the English department’s Linda Naranjo-Huebl at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23 in the Fish House.

Rhodes is pleased with the range of offerings and the willingness of departments to take a hand in the celebration: “I think that the level of our partnerships across these departments shows that African American history is American history, and the months’ events demonstrate that.”

It’s important to study black history, Atkins said, “to learn about culture and celebrate black American’s contributions to our society. It’s also important to reflect on the culture of others so that we … understand how the culture we were raised in shapes the people we are today.”

History professor Eric Washington

A plate of soul food

Assistant dean of multicultural student affairs Jacque Rhodes

Calvin departments have collaborated on an array of events for Black History Month.

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