CSUN to host virtual Black History Month events


Leslie Small tells stories of his time in the Black Student Union at the kickoff event at the USU for Black History Month Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 “In the environment where we were being oppressed, we transformed our conditions. We didn’t leave, we didn’t hear,” Small said. Photo credit: Chelsea Hays

Chris Constantine, Reporter

CSUN will host a number of virtual events and activities throughout February to celebrate Black History Month.

Organizations and clubs on campus, such as the Department of Africana Studies and the Black House, will offer discussions, programs, rituals and lectures from guest speakers that highlight the history and achievements of Black people in both the United States and across the African diaspora.

“These events reflect Black excellence, racial pride and [racial] uplift, connectedness, and resilience for our Black Matadors,” said Cedric Hackett, who opened Black History Month last year with a Zoom seminar about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. “Our shared struggle and triumph are important to celebrate. We must never forget what our forebears did and how it is manifested today.”

Black History Month, which commences Feb. 1 and concludes March 1, began in 1926 as Negro History Week to highlight important figures and events in African American history. However, it was not nationally recognized until its 50th anniversary in 1976 when former President Gerald Ford declared it a national holiday.

While CSUN was able to celebrate Black History Month on campus in 2020, the events had to move online for 2021 as the pandemic entered its second year. This allowed members of the community to continue learning about the importance of Black history and heritage safely.

“In a way, it brings these events to scale if our community wants to learn and/or participate in the virtual community,” Hackett said.

COVID-19 restrictions may have forced educators to find new ways to teach their curriculum online, but in the process these adaptations helped them think of creative methods to share news about the country’s current events that related to their classes.

Theresa White, chair of the Department of Africana Studies, realized that the demand for virtual events gave her new opportunities and tools to expose people to Black history and culture.

“Although we celebrate our heritage every day, this past year has forced our community to think deeply about political, racial and social issues of inequality and injustice, as we tapped into the deepest part of our being in order to thrive in the virtual space in the middle of one of the worst global tri-pandemics [health, economic and racial/social inequities] in modern history,” said White in an interview with CSUN Today last year.

Moving forward, the campus will continue to offer these online celebrations to make CSUN’s series of Black History Month events accessible to all members of the CSUN community.

Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History chooses a theme to center Black History Month festivities on a specific area of African American identity or accomplishment. This year, the national theme is “Black Health and Wellness.” It highlights Black healthcare workers, medical practitioners and even people who are skilled in alternative healing practices.

CSUN’s events often integrate with Black History Month’s theme, so this year’s virtual celebrations will feature several webinar presentations on Black physical and mental health. Highlights will include the Black Mental Health and Wellness Fair on Feb. 23 and the “Lyrics of Lowly Life” discussion of male mental health in rap music on Feb. 24.

“For generational consciousness purposes, we must continue to educate, reflect and motivate so the baton is passed to the next generation,” Hackett said. “The marathon continues.”