‘#BlackEffectMelanated & Educated’
By Wanda Johnson, Clemson Inclusion & Equity
Many American history books may not include the names and stories of people like South Carolina native Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, the first female baseball pitcher to play in the Negro Leagues, or Janie Glymph Goree, South Carolina’s first African-American female mayor. Some American history books gloss over the name Isaac Woodard, the World War II veteran who set off national outrage and galvanized the civil rights movement after the U.S. Army discharged him in 1946. Still in uniform, Woodard was beaten and permanently blinded by police in Batesburg after he was forced off a Greyhound bus.
Clemson’s Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center is honoring the works and sacrifices of African-Americans like them throughout February with several Black History Month events and activities.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an author, journalist and historian, founded Negro History Week in 1926 to highlight the progress of black people following the Civil War. The week turned into a month and is also known as African American History Month.
“As a diversity educator, it is important to me to give credit to the originators of various ideas, concepts, theories or celebrations,” said Jerad Green, Gantt Multicultural Center associate director of multicultural programs. “So I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Dr. Carter G. Woodson in a discussion about the relevance and importance of Black History Month.”
Green said it is also important to celebrate black excellence and not just black suffering.
“Because Black History Month should be about empowerment and inspiration. This year’s celebration will be about the Black Effect and the global impact black people have had. We will build community, share histories and call people to action,” Green said.
Clemson events in honor of black history include:
Flashback Friday, which kicks off the celebrations at Clemson. The Office of College Preparation and Brother 2 Brother will bring back the “Soul Train” line for a night of dancing, good food and giveaways at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, in the Palmetto Ballroom of the University Union.
Stepping Through History highlights the evolution of stepping as a dance and art form adopted by black Greek letter organizations will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Tillman auditorium.
Clemson professor Rhondda Thomas will lead a Call My Name Tour and discussion to acknowledge and highlight Clemson’s African-American history from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6. Reservations are required here.
The Fannie Lou Hamer Story is a one-woman stage play featuring Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye. Like all the Clemson Black History Month events, the performance at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts is free and open to the public. The play consists of riveting storytelling, stirring songs from the Civil Rights Era and a graphic montage that celebrates Hamer as an unsung “shero” of civil rights and social justice. Hamer was an American voting and women’s rights activist, community organizer and leader who endured beatings and death threats in the name of civil rights. Hamer co-founded the Freedom Democratic Party and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
A spoken word performance by Kai Davis, a queer woman of color, deals with topics of race, gender, power, sexuality and its many layers, will be at 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Barnes Center.
Finding your ancestors with Ancestry by Clemson Libraries gives students, faculty, staff and community members an opportunity to explore their family histories through Ancestry. It will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, in the Brown Room of Cooper Library.
Tigers Unite and Student Athletes of Color Group will present Soul Food Sunday to bridge the gap between student athletes and non-athletes through games, food and dialogue. And More than an Athlete examines the Mizzou football team in 2015 and how it shook colleges around the country. NFL defensive end Charles Harris will share the importance of social change and ways student-athletes can engage in healthy activism at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, in the West End Zone at Memorial Stadium.
The culminating Black History Month event features keynote speaker David Banner, a Grammy Award-winning music producer, recording artist, philanthropist, civic activist and actor. Banner appeared in Lee Daniel’s “The Butler” and Tim Story’s movie “Ride Along.” He will speak at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Tillman Hall auditorium.
More information on the events and others are listed here and on social media at #CUBlackEffect.
Black History Month programming at Clemson aims to promote the diversity and complexities of black identity through multiple lenses and experiences.