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NIU ready to celebrate Black Heritage Month

January 26, 2011
LaVerne Gyant

LaVerne Gyant

A month full of activities the NIU community has planned in celebration of Black Heritage Month 2011 will begin Tuesday, Feb. 1.

On that day and for the following 27 days, students, faculty and staff will sponsor, attend and take part in dances, lecturers, seminars and banquets that celebrate more than a century of contributions African-Americans have made in the United States.

“We are recognizing contributions that are scholarly, historical, artistic, life-saving and political,” said LaVerne Gyant, the director of NIU’s Center for Black Studies and professor in the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education. “Many people in this country still are not aware of all the contributions and history.”

The Center for Black Studies sponsors and plans the events with the help of a 10-member committee of students, staff and faculty.

“Our theme this year is ‘Pride Renewed, Refreshed and Refined: The Afrocentric Mind,’ ” said NIU junior and Chicago resident Farouk Olayiwola. “Committee members have been planning the events since October. They touch on every segment of the Afrocentric mind.”

Activities include a performance of the NIU Black Choir with gospel legend Fred Hammond, a tribute to black women, a poetry reading and a discussion about Bayard Rustin, an openly gay civil rights leader in the 1960s.

Center for Black Studies

Center for Black Studies

All events are are open to the entire NIU community, and everyone is encouraged to attend. 

“Black Heritage Month has been celebrated in this county for over 70 years,” Gyant said. “Now, it is in the spotlight for a month. Our goal is to bring awareness to the contributions so they are a part of everyday life.”

The events are sponsored by the Center for Black Studies, the African Student Association, the Black Graduate Student Association, BROTHERS, the College of Education, the Residence Hall Association, the Campus Activities Board, Graduate Colloquium Committee, NPHC, Delta Sigma Theta, Iota Phi Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, SISTERS, Phi Rho Eta, Unity and Diversity, the Black Alumni Association, Health Enhancement and the NIU Budget and Facilities Committee.

A calendar detailing the activities throughout the month is available online. For more information, contact the Center for Black Studies at (815) 753-1709.

– by Gerard Dzuiba