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ISSUE 120 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/23/2007

Month celebrates role in arts

By Tim Rehborg
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 23, 2007

February is celebrated as Black History Month, both across the nation and at St. Olaf. The Cultural Union of Black Expression (CUBE), Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach (MACO), Karibu, Muslim Student Association (MSA), Diversity Celebrations Committee (DCC) and Student Activities Committee (SAC) will sponsor activities.

This year’s theme for St. Olaf events focuses on the roles African-Americans have played in the arts.

Integrating the events of V-Week and Black History Month is the performance “The Loudest Form of Silence: What it is Like to Be a Woman of Color.”

Directed by Sharon Sanders ‘07, this performance will feature multicultural women from both St. Olaf and Carleton. It was held in Urness at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

Preceding this event was the fashion show during dinner in Stav Hall, where St. Olaf students modeled hip-hop and African fashions. Another event on Feb. 24 is the SAC sponsored movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith. The movie tells the story of one man’s struggle to be with his son despite eviction and unemployment.

One of the centerpieces of the celebration here on campus was the performance by Saul Williams on Wednesday. A writer and actor, Williams gave a slam poetry performance in the Pause.

Professor of English Joseph Mbele also gave a presentation on the Harlem Renaissance on Feb. 12 that highlighted the work of African-Americans in this literary and artistic movement.

Relegating a whole month to the study and celebration of the history of a specific skin color has become a controversial topic. Many people complain that to focus on the history of black people is to dwell too long on the topic of past and present victimization of the black community.

Eyita Gaga '07 opposes this view. “It's not victimization to know your history. The history taught in our schools tends to be Eurocentric, and we need to remember that history is all connected. Black History Month helps us with a holistic picture of American History,” Gaga said. “Also, knowing our history as a people empowers and gives dignity … strengthening the African-American community, and hence America overall.”

Organizers agree on the appropriateness of this year's arts theme: “In the arts we have a place where everyone comes together,” said Shiquita Bradford ‘09, president of CUBE. “People from all races listen to hip-hop today, it’s a common identity that can bring us together.”

Through the lens of the arts, Black History Month is a time to celebrate and remember those in the African-American community.

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