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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 “Walking in the Footsteps of Greatness” and programming includes art and museum exhibits, a film screening, a panel discussion and more. 

Events kick off on Thursday, 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, 2024 – Black History Month Exhibit in Sprague Library

FEBRUARY 1, 2024 – Black History Month Opening Program, 11:50 a.m. President Koppell will lead a procession, along with campus police color guard escort, from the Kasser Theatre 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:

  • Ashante Connor – Benjamin Banneker
  • Marcheta Evans – Maya Angelou
  • Daniel Gurskis – Oscar Micheaux
  • Reginia Judge – Charlotte Ray, Esq.
  • David Vernon – Lewis Latimer
  • Rita Walters – Lorraine Hansberry

FEBRUARY 6, 2024 – History of Step, 2:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m., Bloomfield Campus – Talbott Hall (Student Center). This event will give an explanation of why Greek Fraternities and Sororities step /stroll. There will be a brief demonstration of stepping and strolling by some of the organizations on campus.  It will showcase the history of stepping/strolling from past years to present times.

FEBRUARY 7, 2024 – Black History Month Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., in the Student Center Dining Room prepared by Dining Services.

FEBRUARY 7, 2024 – Black History Museum and Film Screening, 10:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms A & B. Join us for a journey of Black American History featured on posters and a screening of 1619.  

FEBRUARY 16, 2024 – Conversations with the Chancellor, 11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m., Virtual event live streamed from the Bloomfield Campus HERE. This monthly event features Dr. Marcheta Evans and two special guests. They sit and talk about various subjects such as relationships, hobbies, music, failures, celebrities, future goals, etc. 

FEBRUARY 19, 2024 – Black Alumni Success Panel, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., at the Feliciano School of Business Room 140. Celebrate Black History Month with the Black Alumni Advisory Council as we “stand on the shoulders of greatness” with our accomplished black alumni in a special Career Panel. Learn about their professional journey and network with other BAAC successful professionals in the Black Alumni Advisory Network.

FEBRUARY 21, 2024 – African Dance, 6:00 p.m. -7:30 p.m., Bloomfield Campus – Deacon’s Den in Talbott Hall. This event is a dance showcase which has instructors and live drummers. People who attend will learn the history and terminologies of African Dance culture. Attendees will have a chance to get up and learn a routine with the instructors and have a chance to freestyle as well. This program is definitely one that will give you a great workout and have you smiling throughout the entire time.

FEBRUARY 21, 2024 – Discussion with Jennifer Jones, the First Black Rockette, 1:30 p.m. -2:30 p.m., Studio 1200 in Life Hall.

FEBRUARY 23, 2024 – DIASPORA: A Collection of Black Art! Presents “Cookout”  Performance 8:00 p.m. -9:30 p.m., in Leshowitz Recital Hall, adjacent to the atrium. A student-organized and produced space for self-expression through music, movement, art, and spoken word. Through this event, the struggles, emotions, and cultures of students of color are celebrated and appreciated. Produced by student Vincent Means for the second year in a row.

FEBRUARY 27, 2024 – Documentary Screening: Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power, 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., University Hall 1040. Through first-person accounts and searing archival footage, LOWNDES COUNTY AND THE ROAD TO BLACK POWER tells the story of the local movement and young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers who fought not just for voting rights, but for Black Power in Lowndes County, Alabama.

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; Office of Civic and Voter Engagement.

Join the Black Alumni Advisory Council

The Black Alumni Advisory Council brings together Montclair State University graduates who are of African descent in the Diaspora, connecting them to their alma mater and engaging them in preparing today’s students for academic and career success. Click here to learn more about the BAAC.

Make an Impact!

Also, as we take this month to honor Black Heritage, we invite you to join the Black Alumni Advisory Council’s Join Me with $83 Campaign in support of the BAAC Initiatives Fund. This fund supports scholarship, book funds, and areas needed to support the success of our students as well as enable the BAAC to develop programmatic opportunities to build a vibrant and supportive alumni network. 

Make a Gift

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.