Plans set for ‘Black Herstory’ event

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The Women’s Studies Student Association at CSUN will highlight black women’s contributions in a first-time celebration to be held Feb. 13 to 17, 2006.

The first observance of “Black Herstory” at CSUN will include a poetry and movie night, a lecture series, and entertainment shows that will focus on outstanding women in society, said Rachel Murphy, president of WSSA. The weeklong events will be part of the 2006 Black History Month celebration.

“(The event) will help counter the myths of black womanhood,” said Dianne Bartlow, women’s studies professor at CSUN. “Any contribution to the American story should be (acknowledged) at any time of the year.”

Bartlow said she contacted Murphy to be a guest speaker and talk about black feminist thought in the 19th century.

Murphy said the event would recognize outstanding women on- and off-campus.

She said the last night of Black Herstory would conclude with a dinner banquet that will include an awards ceremony.

The banquet would “recognize outstanding organizations, students and faculty, as well as outside organizations,” she said.

Society needs to recognize women and their contributions in the same way that it looks at men’s contributions, Murphy also said.

Our society is based on patriarchy and an event focused on black women is a good idea, said Patricia Grizzle Huling, acting director of the Program for Adult College Education and part-time lecturer for the Pan-African Studies Department.

Murphy said prior to organizing the event, WSSA planned to help the Black Student Union organize its events for Black History Month.

“I think it’s time that black women were acknowledged,” Grizzle Huling said.

Maria Villanueva, junior liberal studies major, said she would be more inclined to participate in an event focusing on black females than previous Black History Month celebrations, which she said she thought focused mostly on contributions of black men.

The event would give others an opportunity to know more about the black culture through the work of women, Villanueva said.

Bartlow said there are many stereotypes about black women, and the event could help facilitate the need to rid people of negative ideas of black women.

The event could promote “new script and (a) new frame of thinking” about black women, she said.

The celebration of Black Herstory symbolizes the tremendous progress made by black women in our society, Grizzle Huling said.

“It’s definitely empowering (since) leaders of (the) black community are overwhelmingly men,” she said. Giving recognition would validate a black woman’s presence in today’s society, she said.

She also said the event should not just be a weeklong celebration, but could be a start to Women’s History Month in March.

“I am a multiculturalist and a woman. All groups of people struggle for equality,” Grizzle Huling said. “It is a great idea to start because despite our progress, women in our society still fight for equality tooth and nail.”

Leslie Jovel, freshman business major, said the event could reinforce the fact that minorities as well as women are rising and succeeding in society.

“It’s a good thing,” Jovel said. “There could be more knowledge (presented) about what black women have done and they should have started a long time ago.”

Joanne Angeles can be reached at city@csun.edu.