Black History Month observances slated Luther

Luther College invites everyone to recognize and celebrate Black History Month this February with a series of events on campus. The month will include a jazz performance of one of Langston Hughes’s poems, film screenings and a distinguished lecture. The events are open to the public.

“Black History Month provides an opportunity to reflect on the contributions and influences of African Americans,” said Robert Clay, diversity, equity and inclusion officer and assistant to the president for community engagement at Luther. “It also challenges us to further social justice and civil rights efforts that are necessary for African Americans to have equitable experiences in local and global capacities.”

Luther College’s Black Student Union (BSU) will host a film screening of “Pariah” (2011) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, in Valders Hall of Science 206. Directed by Dee Rees, the film tells the story of Alike (Adepero Oduye), a 17-year-old Black teenager embracing her identity as a lesbian. BSU will also host Nerdology Trivia at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, at Marty’s in the basement of Dahl Centennial Union.

“I’m thrilled to announce our Black History Month theme, African Americans and the Arts,” said Jasmine Studer-Sarjeant, president of BSU and a junior. “This theme embodies a celebration of the remarkable contributions made by African American artists throughout history. Join us in a series of enriching events that aim to highlight the diverse talents and creativity that have shaped our cultural landscape.”

Erik Clark, class of 2009, will host a reading and signing of his book “Blunt Force Trauma” from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, in the Center for the Arts Atrium. Attendees will be able to gain insights into his creative process.

Ron McCurdy, professor of music at University of Southern California, and his quartet will perform Langston Hughes’s “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz” for Luther College’s Center Stage Series at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall. Langston Hughes wrote “Ask Your Mama” between 1959 and 1960 and shared sections at the Newport Jazz Festival. McCurdy and his quartet have brought the poem fully to life with jazz accompaniment, visuals and spoken word. Tickets are required for this event and are available online at or by calling the Luther College Box Office at 563-387-1357.

BSU will host a film screening of “Fences” (2016) in Valders 206 Friday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Written by August Wilson, the film stars Denzel Washington and is based on the 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.

Rev. Lamont Wells, the executive director of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities (NECU), will give the Black History Month Keynote Address at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the CFL’s Main Hall. His lecture will share insights about ecumenism, queer identity, social justice and inclusion and how these themes motivate him as a faith leader and community organizer.

“Together, let’s honor the past, appreciate the present, and inspire a future where the arts continue to be a powerful force for unity and understanding within our community,” said Studer-Sarjeant.

BSU will host an Afro Music Concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, in Marty’s. Experience an evening of vibrant music, dance and spoken word that pays homage to inspiring stories throughout history.

“Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity for the Luther campus to get a fuller understanding of American history,” said Novian Whitsitt, professor of Africana studies and English at Luther. “We still live in times in which the accepted constructed American historical narratives eliminate or diminish the integral role of Black American contributions to intellectual, scientific, political, artistic and athletic endeavors.”

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