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Black History Month Celebrated with Lectures, Exhibits

by Christine Clarke

Black History Month will be marked by several events on campus in February. The Black History Month program is a combined effort of the African American studies department, Afrikan Heritage House, the President's office, Residential Life and Services, the Multicultural Resource Center and Abusua. This year's title is "Reckoning with the Past; Looking to the Future."

Lord Saunders Resident Coordinator Miesha McClure believes that without these committed organizations, Black History Month would have been overlooked by the College. "I don't want to undermine the fact that money was given to the cause of Black History Month, but had we not collaborated to create a Black History Month I don't believe the institution would have formally made an effort," McClure said. This is one example of her ongoing disappointment with the College in this area. "Once we get here, I don't get the same sense I got from Follow the Morning Star," she said.

Associate Professor of African American studies Booker Peek stresses that this month is not only about African Americans, but about diversity. "No other country in the world has the wonderful diversities we enjoy. [Black History Month] is not just a particularization of black people, but an embracing of all the deep and abiding values of the American way of life," Peek said.

Peek said that his first response was to see Black History Month "as a totally positive experience," but added, "I look forward to a time when it will be something that we will just celebrate daily."

Black History Month began with conductor Moses Hogan (OC '79) directing the Moses Hogan Singers. An Oberlin Conservatory alumnus and conductor, Hogan is renowned for his musical arrangements.

Upcoming events include a speech by Owen Brooks, who has been called a Movement veteran. Associate Professor of history Maghan Keita from Villanova University is speaking Feb. 15 and 16. Randall Robinson, author of The Debt: What America Owes Blacks, will be speaking on Feb. 20. Randall has gained international recognition as a human rights advocate.

Spike Lee's Bamboozled is showing at the Apollo theater Saturday. When asked by Black Talent News about the use of blackface in the film, Lee replied, "That is how we're thought of, as less than human beings. It had to take some sick minds, some sick, twisted, cruel minds to do that. And it was acceptable."

An exhibit beginning Feb. 27 is called "A Matter of Taste: the African Collection at the Allen Memorial Art Museum." Assistant to the Director Leslie Miller said the show will demonstrate "how the West's view of African art over time has been affected by what people have collected over the years."

Several items never before shown in the museum will be included, one of which is an Egungun outfit used in special ceremonies. "Textiles are really crucial to the culture. In the late 19th and early 20th century all African art collected in the West was anonymous, they weren't interested in who the artist was or what the function of the art was or where it came from," Miller said.

The Oberlin Electronic Group made a web site to celebrate black history:

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Copyright © 2001, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 129, Number 13, February 9, 2001

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