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Black History Month Kicks Off with Experiential Events and Celebrations

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February is Black History Month, and this year Endicott will celebrate with a larger, broader effort to create meaningful events that offer chances to exchange ideas and share fresh experiences.
By: Erin Hatch


February is Black History Month, and this year Endicott will celebrate with a larger, broader effort to create meaningful events that offer chances to exchange ideas and share fresh experiences.

“There is a lot of collaboration this year, and that’s really something new here,” said Rev. Dr. Gail Cantor, Director of Spiritual Life, Interfaith Chaplain, and Co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce. “This year, our list of events really feels like an organic collaboration of schools, faculty, staff, and students. I think it’s a sign of something that’s moving here in the DEIB area—a more expansive grassroots effort for inclusion.”

From class projects in the Cummings School of Nursing and Health Sciences to performances in the Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts, honoring Black history will be more widespread than ever at Endicott in 2022.

“I’m really happy about the collaboration on campus and, beyond that, the openness to work together,” said Brandi Johnson, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer. “That is what is creating more of a voice on campus for historically underrepresented people. The events this month will bring an opportunity for conversations around both historic representation and also kindness and moving forward together.”

The Black History Month Expo

The centerpiece of the month’s events is the Black History Month Expo on February 28, a campus-wide collection of learning opportunities that will bring together students, faculty, and staff through a variety of methods and settings.

Presentations and exhibits covering different aspects of Black history will be placed throughout campus, each offering a unique learning experience. From departments and schools to classes and individuals, these presentations are staffed by the people who have researched topics relevant to their interests and experiences—a performing arts major presenting on a famous Black musician, for instance.

“The Expo focuses on experiential learning,” Cantor explained. “Something happens when people participate and aren’t just an audience. You learn something different when you contribute to others’ learning. Instead of trying to teach our students about Black history and the contributions of Black people to society, they’re going to become the teachers to people coming to their table. That feels like a breakthrough to me in our work.”

On the day of the Expo, the Endicott community are invited to obtain a map of the different exhibits, and passport stamps at every table can be collected to enter a prize drawing. At 4:30 p.m. that day, an awards ceremony will take place in the Linda Cleary Lecture Hall to talk about the projects and celebrate all who participated in the event. The ceremony will begin with a short talk from football great Ed Jenkins, former professional running back for the undefeated 1972 Superbowl champion Miami Dolphins.

Cantor says there has already been significant interest in joining the Expo. “We’ve gotten a lot of traction and we think it’s going to be a great student-driven event,” she said.

Johnson added that she can see the Expo becoming a popular annual event.

Black History Month events on campus

Events and gatherings are still being added to February’s calendar. Here are a few highlights to look forward to:

Saturday, February 5: Late night LoCa screening of the movie Soul with soul food 

Thursday, February 10: A screening of A Reckoning in Boston, an award-winning documentary about racial and economic inequalities in cities. Filmmaker James Rutenbeck and members of the cast will be here for Q&A following the film. 7 p.m. in the Interfaith Chapel.

Wednesday, February 16: Black History Month Dine & Dialogue with Brandi Johnson, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer. Noon-1:30 p.m. and 5-6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 22: Talk and Q&A with African American Boston-based construction business owner Greg Janey, sponsored by the Curtis L. Gerrish School of Business and Engineering Program. Janey is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wentworth Institute of Technology. 5 p.m. in the LSB Auditorium. (Three additional lectures in the series will take place on February 3, 10, and 17. Those speakers will be announced soon.)

Thursday, February 24: Peace activist Ken Nwadike, Jr., founder of the Free Hugs Project, will discuss the Free Hugs Movement and the power of positive human interaction. Free t-shirts for the first 200 attendees. 6:30 p.m. in the Cleary Lecture Hall.

Sunday, February 27: Frozen Flop at Mingo Beach. Students are invited to run into the cold Atlantic for charity, including Merrimack Valley Black and Brown Voices. 2:15 p.m. at Mingo Beach.

Monday, February 28: The Black History Month Expo will feature educational displays around campus, with over 20 subjects already submitted. Maps will be available with a list of projects and where they can be found. The Expo will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a judges’ choice ceremony at 4:30 p.m., followed by a reception.

Check the Endicott events calendar for full listings and additional events to come.