By Dianne Anderson
Students and community are delving deeper into discussions across a spectrum of contemplative issues as Black History Month celebrations pack the calendar to inspire.
At Cal State University Long Beach, the breakout of cultural highlights starts Friday, February 3. Students are invited to a presentation by the Black Student Union Elders Association on the origins of the Educational Opportunity Program Collection, Historical Society of Long Beach with its wayback display of documents, newspaper articles, and photographs of Black faculty and student activism.
Paul Carter, assistant director of the Black Resource Center, gets his passion for the event from his early days attending a predominantly white liberal arts college.
There, the Black resource center inspired his own professional career and personal development. He said the office of Black Student Affairs was essential for their small group of Black students to make connections, gain mentors, and access job opportunities.
For him, the center meant he had a place to grow.
“That was something in terms of my professional career that went back to resource centers,” he said. “I know how important it is to have folks that represent you on your campus that are committed to making sure that you feel at home and celebrated by your peers.”
Other campus events this month include, but are not limited to, workshops on scholarships, and how students can become part of leadership in student government. That event is on February 6, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., presented by Diamond Byrd, Executive Vice President of Associated Students, Inc.
That same day, Black Gaze on Education is held virtually, first in a series of Black Lives Matter at School events, hosted by Dr. Kisha Porcher and Dr. Shamaine Bertrand.
On February 9, Carter said the 24th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is going to be memorable, and open to the community. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the USU Ballroom.
“We’re collaborating with various departments and there is a lot of collaboration with that program. It feels great to be a part of something that has been around for so long, to continue the legacy of Dr. King that has been going on for 24 Years,” he said.
On February 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., the community is invited to Zoom in on the Resistance Scholarship and Africana Studies: Alliances and Struggles at SFSU and CSULB.
Taste buds will also not be ignored with A Taste of Pan-African Cuisine on February 22, from 1-2:00 p.m. as Basic Needs presents conversations around a cooking demonstration on the historical roots and influence of African cuisine.
Also hosted by the Black Resource Center, on February 28, education scholar Dr. Luke Wood, a Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education at San Diego State University, presents at the USU Ballroom from 1 – 3:30 p.m.
These and other events are open to the campus, but the community can get involved in any virtual events online.
“It’s really about everyone showing up, and having that platform and be able to share with everyone and support each other, and also show our students that we’re here for them,” he said.
Around town, on Sunday, February 26, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) invites the community to explore just how deep African roots go into Latin culture.
Solimar Salas said their annual Afro-Latinx Festival has a full lineup of events, along with local partners African American Cultural Center for Long Beach and the Arts Council for Long Beach.
“Although our celebration of the Afro-Latin roots in the Latin American and Latino/a/x community is a continuous theme, we take this event as an opportunity to put in center stage representatives of this community and have them share their stories and creativity,” said Salas, Vice President of Museum Content & Programming of Museum of Latin American Art.
The festival features live art, conferences, performances, good food and vendors to celebrate the African influence in the Latin American and Latino/a/x community. There will be multiple exhibits,
and newly elected Long Beach City Mayor Rex Richardson takes the main stage at 1:00 p.m.
Among the many performances, DJ Irving Keys from Panama will take center stage. Contra Mestre Corpo Fechado with CDFC Capoeira breaks out Afro-Brazilian martial arts performances that mix up dance music and acrobatics. Nadia Calmet, director of The Afro- Peruvian Experience Dance Company, brings traditional Peruvian instruments to the fore with The Cajita, The Donkey Jaw and The Cajon.
Drummers on the Primera, Segunda, and Tercera drums, maracas, turtle shells, and Conch of the Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United will beat out the most popular genres, including Punta, Paranda, Wanaragua, Hüngühüngü, and Gunchei.
Garifuna Language & Culture Academy of Los Angeles artists has evolved under the leadership of Cheryl L. Noralez, President and Founder of GAHFU. They perform a variety of genres among the most popular: Punta, Paranda, Wanaragua, Hüngühüngü, and Gunchei.
Yet another exciting element is getting the community involved in artistic perspectives and contributions.
Until February 5, MOLAA is still accepting art pieces that represent the talent, traditions and vibrancy of the Afro-Latino/a/x community members.
“The panel of judges will be comprised by Jahki Quarles, from the African American Cultural Center of Long Beach (AACCLB), Griselda Suárez, from the Arts Council for Long Beach, and José Angel Castro, Guest Speaker and Special Artist for this event. Artworks will be on display February 25 through March 3 in the Viva Event Center of MOLAA,” she said.
For more Cal State Long Beach BHM information, see https://www.csulb.edu/student-affairs/office-of-multicultural-affairs/cultural-heritage-months
To contribute to the art exhibit, see https://molaa.org/2023-afrolatinx-festival