Seton Hall University

Celebrating Black History Month 2017  

Black History MonthThe Crisis in Black Education and the crucial role of education in the history of the African American experience is the 2017 national theme for Black History Month. Organizations on campus are holding events to celebrate and discuss important milestones.

"Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said the long sweep of history is towards justice and truth. President Barak Obama recently noted that racial progress in America has never been a constantly ascending curve on a graph. Racial progress has often been a few steps forward and a few steps backward, but eventually and gradually progress is made against great odds and resistance," said History Professor Larry Greene.

Professor Greene shared that an understanding of the African American past supports this view of human history for the incorporation of black history into the American narrative has been a long-time coming. Black history month was originally Negro History Week founded in the early 1920s by the pioneer African American historian, Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was the second African American to receive his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in the early 20th century.

Woodson felt that the black historical experience in America had been largely ignored and distorted by the history profession in the rare instances when secondary schools and college history texts did mention African Americans in the early 20th century.

Slavery was portrayed as a benign and non-oppressive institution and Jim Crow segregation and political disfranchisement throughout the South were ignored or supported either implicitly or explicitly. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 1915 and the Journal of African American History in 1916 to right these wrongs.

"A century later the views and interpretation of the black experience in America supported by the Association and the journal are now the dominant views within the historical profession and in most college level texts on American History," said Professor Greene, adding, "It is important for all Americans to keep the faith and keep active to attain the vision of Dr. King, Dr. Woodson, and President Obama."

Rev. Forrest Pritchett, program director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Program said, "Some folks like to say that Black History is American History. That statement would be true if all of the components of the Black experience were treated and covered in American history books. The reality is, that historically, most African American children begin to feel different, in a negative way after reading about the experience of their people in traditional text material. Dr. Kenneth and Mamie Clarke presented empirical evidence of this before the Supreme Court, as Thurgood Marshall argued the Brown v Board of Education case in 1954."
Black History Month
In this context, Rev. Pritchett expressed the value of studying Black History and the importance of education.

"When I was a pre-teenager, I suddenly awoke one day and thought, 'How could our people survive hundreds of years of terrorism and psychological genocide? How did we overcome thousands of laws that were written to literally freeze and entrap our culture into perpetual pathology.' That was the beginning of my journey into self-discovery. For the first time, I became a motivated reader. I read all that I could get my hands on, and learned about our perseverance, determination, grit, leadership and courage," he explained.

This year's programming showcases the collaboration between faculty and student organizations to produce first class academic presentations to enlighten and challenge the community, networking with all schools, divisions, departments and organizations that want to offer programming during this period. Speakers will include civil rights advocates such as Kathleen Cleaver from Emory Law School and the youngest daughter of the prophetic Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Bernice King, current Executive Director of the King Center in Atlanta. The community will gather to support the efforts surrounding the emergence of the Edwin Lewinson Center for the Study of Labor, Inequality, and Social Justice. The late Seton Hall history professor, Lewinson was a close ally in the civil rights struggle in this country. In March, University students and faculty plan to visit the newest Smithsonian structure in Washington, D.C., the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Event Schedule

The opening ceremony is the Flag Raising Ceremony and Lecture at 12 noon on Saturday, January 28, in the University Center. Presentations are being coordinated by Africana Studies, Black Student Union and the Black Alumni organization. A lunch reception and program will follow.

On Thursday, February 2, at 8 p.m., the Seton Hall Black History Inaugural Lecture features Kathleen Neal Cleaver, senior lecturer and research fellow at Emory University School of Law, who has spent her life participating in the human rights struggle. The program will be held in Jubilee Hall Auditorium.

On Tuesday, February 21, at 5 p.m., the Lewinson Center will host a free screening of the Frontline documentary by Columbia University Journalism Professor Jelani Cobb, a staff writer for The New Yorker, most recently known for his coverage of the Ferguson unrest and his featured appearance in the Oscar-nominated documentary 13th. Policing the Police, examines allegations involving the Newark Police Department and the screening will be in the Nursing Amphitheater, Room 113.

On Monday, February 27, at 5 p.m., the Lewinson Center welcomes Professor Cobb to present a keynote address as the inaugural event to introduce the center, discuss his work uncovering racial inequality and striving for social justice in Jubilee Hall Auditorium.

Categories: Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Laurie Pine
  • (973) 275-2760