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Cornell Black History Month '97: From Ghanian flags to "Race, Gender and the Law"

Black History Month is about "recognizing the fact that African-Americans as a people made major contributions to American history and culture," says Margaret Washington, an associate professor of history at Cornell University. "However people choose to remember that is pretty much up to them."

And the choices are many this month for members of the Cornell community, with programs ranging from exhibits at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art to a colloquium series at the Africana Studies and Research Center. Except where noted, all events listed below are free and open to the public.

As in the past, the capstone event of Black History Month is the Annual Festival of Black Gospel, Feb. 21 to 23. This year, the festival's 21st anniversary, will feature a performance by Witness, the Grammy-nominated singing quartet, on Friday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in Bailey Hall; also appearing will be Elder Jae Nixon and Dunamis. Tickets at the door are $12. Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 6 to 18 and free to children under 5; tickets are available at Willard Straight Hall box office; Rebop Records, 409 College Ave.; and Logos Bookstore on the Ithaca Commons.

On Monday, Feb. 10, Cornell's ethnic studies programs will present a Joint Ethnic Studies Colloquium titled "Race, Class, Gender and the November '96 Elections" beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the A.D. White House. Speakers will include Carl Feuer of the Mid-State Central Labor Council (Ithaca AFL-CIO); Mary Katzenstein, associate professor of government; and James Turner, professor and director of the Africana Studies and Research Center.

The Africana Center's Spring Colloquium Series gets under way this month, with the theme of "Black Women: Creativity and Struggle." The Wednesday series will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the center's Hoyt Fuller Room, as follows:

  • Feb. 12, "Our ASAFO Warriors Persist in Beating Their (Flat-Chested) Breasts: African Women Writers Critiquing Traditional Rituals," with associate professor of Africana studies Anne Adams;
  • Feb. 26, "Race, Gender and the Law," with Lauren Austin, director of the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission;
  • March 12, "Gender, Race and Welfare Reform in the United States," Josephine Allen, associate professor of human service studies;
  • April 2, "The Polemics of Womanist Theology," Patricia Kaurouma, visiting associate professor of Africana studies; and
  • April 16, "Sojourner Truth: Writing the Life of a Legend," Margaret Washington, associate professor of history.

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art is hosting several exhibits and programs:

  • Feb. 15-March 30: "ASAFO! African Flags of the Fante," a colorful exhibit of the richly symbolic banners and flags produced by the Fante people of Ghana; on Thursday, Feb. 20 at noon, Cornell graduate student of Africana studies Diane Butler will lead a tour of the exhibit;
  • Through March 9: "Gendered Visions: The Art of Contemporary Africana Women Artists"; on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m., Cornell assistant professor and exhibit co-curator Salah Hassan will lead a tour of the exhibit; and
  • Saturday, Feb. 15: "Kuumba: Africa Day," a celebration of African music, games, storytelling, food fashions and more, noon-4 p.m.

Two Cornell organizations are screening films with Africana themes:

  • Get on the Bus, directed by Spike Lee and presented by Cornell Cinema: Thursday, Feb. 6, 10 p.m., Willard Straight Theatre; and Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in Uris Auditorium; tickets are $4 for students, $4.50 for all others; and
  • The Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy presents the following Wednesday afternoon films: Feb. 12, White Man's Burden; Feb. 19, Blue Eyed; and Feb. 26, All God's Children; films are free and begin at 5 p.m. in the Engineering Library of Carpenter Hall.

Lastly, Cornell's Sage Chapel will feature two African-American speakers:

  • Feb. 9, Kenneth McClane, the W.E.B. DuBois Professor of Literature; and
  • Feb. 16, William Gipson, university chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania.

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