African-Amercian Heritage Month starts Wednesday

Kennedy Nolen, Multicultural Reporter

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Artwork displays, poetry readings and a comedy show will begin the celebration of African-American Heritage Month Wednesday night in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

The African-American Heritage Month chair, Yolanda Williams, said in an email the theme for 2017 is “The Power of the Black.” The purpose of Black History Month is to celebrate the power of black people, their culture and history on campus and throughout the country, she said.

“Black people have done a lot for the country we live in. We don’t want (the tradition) to die,” said Nia Douglas, University Board member and coordinator of the event.

African-American Heritage Month, or Black History Month, is celebrated in both the United States and Canada in February and in the United Kingdom in October. Black History Month has been officially recognized by the United States since 1976.

The first section of the kickoff called “The Power of the Black Millennial” will be in the University Ballroom and will have visual art, poets, singers and rappers.

Those interested in attending can arrive at 5 p.m. to view the artwork, Douglas said. Each piece of artwork correlates with the next one, she said, and the art tells a story.

At 6 p.m., the poets, singers and rappers will perform original pieces, Douglas said.

The next part of the kickoff is called “My Black is Power.” It will be hosted at 7 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom. It will be a different kind of event, Douglas said, as it will not be as structured as “The Power of the Black Millennial.”

“My Black is Power” will have a comedy show, which will feature the comedian Xclusive. Douglas said artwork will also be displayed on University Bridge.

All sections of the kickoff are free, and refreshments will be provided.

Douglas said she encourages students to be on the lookout for upcoming events throughout African-American Heritage Month.

Other events this week are readings by poets Allison Joseph and Jon Tribble at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Doudna Lecture Hall and the EIUnity Diversity Conference, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday and last all day in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Williams said in her email she would like to invite everyone to be a part of this cultural experience throughout the month of February for Eastern’s campus-wide celebration of African-American Heritage Month.

Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]