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Celebrating Black Heritage at Montclair State University

Join the African American Studies program, the African American Caucus, the Black Alumni Advisory Council and a coalition of campus partners for a series of programs and activities during Black History Month

Posted in: Alumni News and Events

black heritage month flag raising event

As Black History Month approaches, the African American Studies program, the African American Caucus, the Black Alumni Advisory Council and a coalition of campus partners have put together a series of programs and activities to honor Black heritage and foster solution-focused dialogues about a range of social justice topics. The theme for the month is “Champions of the Bridges that Carried Us Over” and programming includes art and museum exhibits, a film festival, a panel discussion and more. 

Events kick off on Wednesday, February 1, with the Black History Month Opening Day Program, which includes a procession for a flag raising ceremony. All are welcome to attend. Afterward, members of the campus community will give a brief presentation of their favorite or most influential Black historical figures. A full listing of events and programs scheduled to date are as follows:

FEBRUARY 1-28 – Black History Month Exhibit in Sprague Library

FEBRUARY 1, 2023 – Black History Month Opening Program, 11:50 a.m.
President Koppell will lead a procession, along with campus police color guard escort, from Cole Hall to the flagpole by the Student Center. Campus members join the procession along the way. Following the ceremony, including the reading of a proclamation, singing of the Black national anthem and flag raising, all will proceed to the Student Center Ballrooms to continue the opening day program. Key faculty and staff will discuss influential Black historical figures:

  • Maya Angelou – Mary Colon;
  • Lynda Blackmon Lowery – Reginia Judge;
  • Marcus Garvey – Chris Cottle;
  • Fannie Lou Hamer – Saundra Collins;
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. – Clayton Cole;
  • Mary McLeod Bethune – Sandra Lewis;
  • Pauli Murray and James Baldwin – David Vernon;
  • Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb – Sandra Adams;
  • Sidney Poitier – Dan Gurskis;
  • A. Philip Randolph – Darren Sweeper;
  • Bass Reeves – Gregory Collins;
  • Bayard Rustin – Darius Edwards;
  • Luther Smith – Dawn Soufleris;
  • Ida B. Wells – Jonathan Koppell;
  • Phillis Wheatley – Joanne Bowman;
  • Carter G. Woodson – Marilyn Davis.

FEBRUARY 4, 2023 – Black Educators Summit, 8:30 a.m.- Welcome Breakfast, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Summit, hosted by the Center of Pedagogy Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal (MSUNER), University Hall 7th Floor Conference Center. Dr. Michael Hannon will be discussing his book “Black Fathering and Mental Health”. Registration required Recognition Awards will be presented to:

  • Dr. Michael Hannon, Engaged Community Scholar
  • Dr. Leslie Wilson, Engaged Community Scholar
  • NJ Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Engaged Community Leader
  • Dr. Davida Lindsay-Harewood, Amistad Implementation Award
  • Ms. GaDa Lambert, Community Service Award

FEBRUARY 15, 2023 – Black History Special Menu Lunch, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., in the Student Center Dining Room prepared by Dining Services. Celebrate Black History Month as we highlight renowned African American Chefs throughout history to today. Pay at door.

FEBRUARY 15, 2023 – Black History Museum and Film Festival, 10:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms A & B. A traveling museum exhibit from the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.

FEBRUARY 16, 2023 – Black History Museum, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms A & B. A traveling museum exhibit from the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.

FEBRUARY 16, 2023 – A Tribute to Mary McLeod Bethune, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms A & B.

FEBRUARY 16, 2023 – “This Little Light of Mine: Activism in the Black Church” panel discussion, 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms A & B. Panelists: Mr. Ralph Hunter, Dr. Kate Temoney, and Dr. Leslie Wilson.

FEBRUARY 24, 2023 – DIASPORA: A Collection of Black Art! A student-organized and produced night of uplifting and affirming art, music, spoken word, and movement celebrating the cultures of the different black cultures around the world. Art gallery exhibition 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., in the atrium of the Cali School in Chapin Hall. Performance 8:00 p.m. -9:30 p.m., in Leshowitz Recital Hall, adjacent to the atrium.

Register Today

Throughout the month, highlights of Black Historical Figures will be distributed daily via the campus-wide email list.

Program Collaborators and Co-sponsors are: African American Studies; Center of Pedagogy NER; Black Alumni Advisory Council; Office of Social Justice and Diversity; African American Caucus; African American Museum of Southern New Jersey; Sprague Library; Campus Police; Black Student Union; MSU Dining Services

As we take this month to honor Black Heritage, we also invite you to support the African American Studies Program Award which prepares students to solve social problems, build strong communities, and establish a just world.

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Origins of Montclair State University’s Annual Black Heritage Month Program

In 1986, Dr. Saundra Collins, then Director of African American Studies, established the first flag raising and coordinated the first reading of an African American Heritage Month proclamation with Barbara Milton, then Director of the Equal Employment and Affirmative Action Office.

The event was called African American Heritage Month Celebration to acknowledge, recognize and honor our roots as African descendants. Beginning in 1986, Dr. Collins designed and posted the first in a series of Black History Month bulletin boards in the main corridor of College Hall.

For the past 35 years, African American Studies program faculty have chosen a theme to guide our annual event. Themes are created to address the origins of Black History Month, provide education about the accomplishments and contributions of African peoples around the world, advance social change and build community around a shared commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice and equity.

Over the years, the annual program continued to expand. Dr. Leslie Wilson provided lectures on the national origins of Black History Month. Dr. Collins added pouring libation to honor ancestors of African descent. Around 2001, Dr. Sandra Lewis joined this part of the ceremony, offering a portion of the libation in the Yoruba language.

African American Studies, the African American Caucus, academic and administrative units, and student organizations collaborated to create cultural programs that raise awareness about Black heritage, as well as foster solution-focused dialogues about a range of social justice topics including racial microaggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, common experiences with racial injustice and cultural unity among people of African descent around the world, structural issues that sustain an achievement gap between Black students and other groups in K-12 settings, and much more.

In 2004, the first processional was held, starting from the front gate to the flagpole with drumming and a color guard escort by the MSU police. The theme that year was “We are Africans Wherever We Are: Shared History, Shared Destiny”. The processional and color guard escort became a new dimension of the annual program.