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A Shift Toward Current Events, Inclusion In BC’s Black History Month Plans

As Black History Month gets underway, the Bowman Center readies itself for a host of events intended to bring the Boston College student body together.

“However I grow, you grow,” said Joana Maynard, senior assistant director of the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, expressing the theme for this year’s Black History Month. “I am connected to the rest of the campus, the rest of the world, even if I don’t see specifically as a black person.”

Maynard oversees the planning and execution of Black History Month for the Bowman Center—a center that “[supports] the undergraduate community, with a particular focus on AHANA, multicultural, multiracial, and OTE students in navigating college life [and strives] to promote a welcoming environment that fosters holistic development,” according to its mission statement. As the overseer, she spearheads the planning and development for all events that will happen in the following week. “It’s shaping up to be a very exciting month to look forward to,” she said.

The Bowman Center plans to extend the impact of its Black History Month events this year beyond any specific group, according to Maynard. The month will feature programs from multiple student groups, including Black Student Forum, the Haitian Student Association, and the Organization of Latin American Affairs.

An electronic magazine of Black History Month will be sent out to the greater BC community by the Bowman Center. Within this magazine will be student writing pieces, as well as historical writings regarding black history, in an effort to educate and continue the conversation on race throughout the entire month. The magazine is still in the works, but should be out shortly, according to Maynard.

The first formal event to celebrate black history will be a collaboration between the Black Student Forum and the Organization of Latin American Affairs. Entitled “You’re Black and You Didn’t Know it?,” the event will be a moderated discussion on the place of Latinos amid the race discussion in society and well as at BC, in light of the recent “Black Lives Matter” movement. It will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. in McElroy 237. Attendees will have the chance to voice their opinions on how BC has responded to the events in Ferguson, Mo., as well as learn more about the history of Africans in Latin America.

The Haitian Association of BC will host a weekend-long event, in which alumni of BC—whether they were a part of the association during their tenure at BC or not—will spend a weekend back on campus, participating in dialogue and hearing presentations from notable alumni on the significance of BHM. On the first day of the alumni weekend, Friday, Feb. 6, the association will host a ticketed cocktail event, with State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, BC ’96, as a featured speaker. The kick-off reception will take place in the Yawkey Murray Function Room at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are available for free through Eventbrite. The following day, a panel of BC alumni involved in the Haitian Association will host a career-oriented event, followed by a discussion on race in McGuinn 121 at 12 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6 also marks the first installment of an art exhibit on the first floor of O’Neill Library. After an extensive application and selection process, the winner will showcase his or her art, inspired by Black History Month until the beginning of March.

The Black Student Forum in collaboration with the Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association (BFSAA) be hosting a viewing of Selma, Paramount Pictures’ new film of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Ala. voting rights marches. Participants will assemble at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8 to travel to the Chestnut Hill Theater for the 11:40 a.m. showing. There will then be a follow-up discussion on the film and its relevance to present-day racial issues in Cushing 001 from 2 to 3 p.m. Tickets for BC students are free on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students interested in attending must sign up at by Friday.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship—a scholarship given to a member of the junior class, recognizing his or her academic achievement, leadership, commitment to service, and involvement with the black community on campus—will be awarded to one of five current semi-finalists. The recipient will be awarded at a reception in the Rat at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Following the presentation, Valerie Mosely, BC ’79, will give the keynote speech. According to Maynard, Mosely “has done fantastic work in terms of faith and service.”

Voices of Imani will celebrate the month on Feb. 22 with a free concert in the Rat at 5 p.m.

While the Bowman Center is still planning its monthly culmination event, Maynard believes the wrap-up to Black History Month will involve several speakers and more student performances. There will also be a concluding dialogue to end the month, she said. The plans for this event have not yet been finalized.

A key component of many of the events is the participation in dialogue and discussion, what Maynard believes to be the most crucial and quintessential part of celebrating Black History Month. “Part of the struggle is that it still impacts all of us,” she said. “We are trying to flesh that out a bit throughout our events—and even the conversations we are having—to make a space for that to happen. We will talk about historically what has happened so that we can talk about currently what is happening and how to address it.”

For many, this year’s Black History Month will be a time to reflect on recent events occurring in both Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island, N.Y. “We cannot ignore what is transpiring on a national and even international level,” Maynard said. “And at a Catholic University, a Jesuit University in particular, it’s about the community growing and building and addressing social issues.”

The Bowman Center is making extra efforts toward inclusion in the celebration of Black History Month, according to Maynard. “Many people say, ‘I’m none of those, so I don’t need to participate,’ but we are educational institution—it gives us the space to learn about any and everyone that is there, and at the same time it helps us learn about ourselves,” Maynard said.

In looking at the history of black Americans, Maynard stresses the month’s centrality to Jesuit education, and how it can be used as an opportunity to build the BC community’s sense of solidarity. “It helps us say, I may not be affected myself, but it may affect someone I pass each day on campus,” she said. “And the more I can learn about [these effects], the more I can appreciate their vantage point and learn, I can be more sensitive, I can be more proactive, I can work on myself and join in this coalition of people who want to see a better world.’”

*Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that tickets for the Haitian Association’s alumni reception are on sale through the Robsham ticket office. Tickets are available for free through Eventbrite.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that the movie screening of ‘Selma’ would be on Saturday, rather than on Sunday, Feb. 8. 

*Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated  that the Bowman Center will be hosting the ‘Selma’ screening, rather than the Black Student Forum in collaboration with the Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association. It also misstated the time of departure and failed to qualify the specified time of the post-movie discussion. The information regarding tickets is a new addition to the article. 

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor

February 2, 2015

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