College hosts events for Black History Month


The Campbell Brothers performed in Dibden Feb. 3.

The third Monday in January marks the annual day of celebration of one of the most influential and renowned civil rights activists in history: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Johnson State College commemorated and celebrated the legacy and memory of Dr. King, starting on Jan. 18, with a variety of events, speakers, exhibits, and volunteer opportunities to start off the Spring 2016 semester.

As part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, starting on Jan. 18 and continuing throughout February, Dewey Hall will be offering a way for students to share their diverse voices in a visual and thought provoking exhibit. “What Does Inclusion Look Like? Reflections on King’s Legacy” is an interactive exhibit that honors and inspires reflection upon King’s world vision of inclusion and the celebration of the diversity of human kind. Students can add their own thoughts about what inclusion means to them to this continually changing exhibit, and learn about what inclusion means and represents for other students.

“Reflections on Dr. King: Undoing Racism in Vermont” was a Creative Audience event that took place on Jan. 20. Representatives from the Champlain-Area National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an African-American civil rights organization, and the Peace and Justice Center came together to discuss definitive ways in which individuals and communities can carry out Dr. King’s messages of peace, acceptance, and positive change. The main topics of discussion included racial justice within Vermont and the need for racially inclusive communities, as well as ways in which positive change can be attained to help put an end to discrimination and racism.

Along with events honoring Dr. King, Feb. 1 marked the beginning of Black History Month and includes a variety of events celebrating and exploring the legacies and histories of other influential and inspiring African-American men and women throughout history.

To kick it off, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Dibden Center for the Arts stage welcomed The Campbell Brothers, a vibrant American Sacred Steel group with a leading gospel ensemble. The African-American gospel tradition music of The Campbell Brothers spreads positive energy and inspires all of those who listen.

Later on in February, Johnson State College welcomes author and speaker Amina Gautier for a reading and book discussion. Gautier is an award-winning author of over 85 short stories and has a variety of accolades, most notably the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Her newest book, “The Loss of All Lost Things,” is a collection of short stories that inspire feelings of fear, anxiety, and loss while exploring the unexplainable beauty of inconsolable loss. Gautier will be speaking on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 5:30p.m. in Stearns Performance Space.

To conclude the events celebrating Black History Month, the documentary film “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” will be screened in Stearns Cinema on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 7:00 p.m. This is the first feature-length documentary film exploring the rich and complex history of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist group that advocated for civil rights during the 1960s to 1980s. The film takes a look at the influence that the Panthers have had and the revolutionary actions they inspired within African-American communities during their time, as well as the controversies surrounding their operations. This documentary film also counts as a Creative Audience event.

Jennifer Stefanski and Emily Neilson, co-chairs of the Program Planning Board, planned and organized the variety of events occurring around the Johnson State College campus for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month. Besides attending the events, students are highly encouraged to join in the 1% Challenge through the SERVE office and commit 10 hours of the semester through a variety of SERVE volunteer opportunities to help leave a positive impact on others and give back to communities.