By Emma Gran
Tuesday, February 1 marked the beginning of Black History Month — an annual, month-long observance created to celebrate the invaluable contributions of Black communities and recognize the systemic injustice and racism embedded in our society that has persisted over centuries and continues today.
Across the nation and on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, we dedicate this month to honoring the unique legacies, accomplishments, and struggles of African Americans throughout our shared history. Black History Month offers an important opportunity for all of us to engage with Black histories and learn the details of this nation’s history that are often neglected or pushed to the side. A chance to focus on the activism and achievements of Black Americans that impact our world in extraordinary ways. By examining our past, Black History Month provides us with a way forward in creating a more equitable, just society for all people.
“Black History Month is always a special time for our campus. It’s the celebration of a rich history, which is important for our students who are navigating a campus and world that doesn’t always reflect or affirm their identities,” explains Lauren Adams, program coordinator for the Black Cultural Center.
Adams continues, “With this theme, we want to highlight Black people’s contributions to media and offer space for celebration and education. We have a variety of events planned by the student led committee, as well as from our campus partners. Ultimately, we hope to contribute to a campus community where Black students feel a strong sense of belonging during their Wisconsin Experience. This year’s theme — Melanin in Media: The People, The Culture, The Blackprint — draws our attention to the contributions of Black people in media, arts, sports and entertainment, and the need to promote inclusion of authentic Black stories with characters that break racial stereotypes.”
A 2020 study by the National Research Group found 2 in 3 Black Americans say they don’t see themselves or their culture represented in movies or television. Importantly, the study also found 75%, or 3 in 4 of all people surveyed (and 87% of Black Americans surveyed), believe the way Black Americans are portrayed in the media influences perceptions of them in the real world.
While historically excluded from media outlets, Black journalists, filmmakers, actors, and athletes continue to pave the way for us to move beyond the Eurocentric norms set by the blueprint of American mainstream media. By laying the foundation for the Blackprint, these remarkable individuals are working to change how the media represents Black communities and culture in a way that allows for Black people to be seen and heard.
Throughout February, join UW–Madison campus community in uplifting the histories and voices of a community frequently marginalized and forgotten. With opportunities to engage with Black-led media —from film and television screenings to a performance featuring dance, spoken word, and an experimental contemporary performance — and Black leaders from campus and around the country, we invite you to participate in this meaningful celebration of Black History Month.
Black History Month at UW–Madison is brought to you by the 2022 Black History Month Planning Committee, the Black Cultural Center, and partners across campus. Visit www.wisc.edu/black-history for a complete list of events happening this month.
For more information about any of the Black History Month events, please contact 262-2014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black History Month event highlights
Black History Month Kickoff: Mass Media Mixer — Friday, Feb. 4
Join the Black History Month Planning Committee at this year’s kickoff event—the Mass Media Mixer. Spend the evening celebrating the start of the month with music, food, and fun! Learn about Black representation in the media and more about our theme for the month!
Alumni Lounge, Pyle Center. 6 p.m.
Soul Talk: A Talk Show — Friday, Feb. 11
Join us for an interactive talk show around social justice and Black representation in the media. This event will feature a soul food dinner followed by a discussion with a number of faculty and students as well as an opportunity to win a prize!
Multicultural Student Center Lounge, Armory and Gymnasium (Red Gym). 6:30 p.m.
BHM Cup Games — Saturday, Feb. 19
A night of discussion and competitive play. Learn about different sports Black people have been successful in, beyond what is historically recognized by the media.
WUD Film Presents: BLACKKKLANSMAN (2018) — Friday, Feb. 25
WUD Film presents Blackkklansman as part of our Spike Lee Festival. Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan Branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events.
Marquee Theater, Union South. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Keynote Event: An Evening with Ruth Carter — Sunday, Feb. 27
Ruth E. Carter received the 2019 Academy Award winner for “Best Costume Design” for her work on BLACK PANTHER, making history as the first African American to win in that category. Carter has worked in the industry for over three decades and has been credited with over forty films and counting—shaping the way Black actors are viewed in the media. Carter will give a brief talk followed by a moderated Q&A.
Varsity Hall, Union South. 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and masks will be required for entry.