“Moving Forward” with Parkland’s Black History Month

Peter Floess

Staff Writer

During the month of February 2017, the theme of Black History Month at Parkland will be “Moving Forward.”

“For African Americans,” says Marietta Turner, the Dean of Students, Black History Month “offers opportunities for more awareness of achievements that create pride in our history and culture, as well as, topical information which keeps us ‘Moving Forward’ which is this year’s theme.”

The Black History Month Committee thought the theme was “appropriate because of some of the events that have happened in our country” in 2016, says committee chair Nick Sanders.

“The killing of unarmed black men, the killing of police officers by civilians, a very divisive presidential election” and Obama leaving office are some examples Sanders gives.

Below are some of the events that will take place at Parkland during the month.

On Feb. 1, from noon until 1 p.m., Turner will do a presentation on “Mindfulness in a Busy Life” in room U140.

“Stress is a common component of life and how one handles it can impact a person’s emotional, mental and physical health,” Turner says. “Research has talked about stress factors from life; including work, family and school causing higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and strokes for African Americans compared to other races and ethnicities.”

On Feb. 7 from 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. in the College Center, there will be an “AIDS Awareness Information Table.”

According to the Parkland website, the table “will help raise awareness on campus about the impact of HIV/AIDS in the African American community, promote HIV testing, and encourage treatment for those with HIV/AIDS.”

On Feb. 8 and 22 in room U140 at 1 p.m., Counselor Donna Tanner-Harold will host a workshop on “Black Male/Female Relationships.”

“My goal for the students who attend the workshop,” says Tanner-Harold, “is to gain an understanding of recognizing and developing healthy, respectful, and caring relationships.”

On Feb. 9 at noon in U140, the department chair of the Social Sciences and Human Services, Joseph Walwik, will give a lecture on “Little Rock before the Nine.”

Walwik will explore the educational and socioeconomic reasons behind the nine African American high schoolers’ decision to try to integrate the all-white Little Rock Central High School in September 1957.

On Feb. 13 at noon in room U140, Sanders will give a lecture on “Light vs. Dark: The Real Divide in the Black Community.”

The Parkland website says this lecture “will examine the deep divide in the African American community about skin complexion and how lighter and darker skin complexions are perceived by mainstream society.”

On Feb. 16 at 11:30 a.m. in room D116, humanities instructor Steven Rutledge will deliver a lecture on “A White Man’s Experience Reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

“My talk is basically my personal story of encountering Mr. X through reading a book he closely worked with Alex Haley to create, titled ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X,’” says Rutledge.

“Sometimes the book gave me a headache, sometimes anger, sometimes profound guilt, sometimes admiration, and sometimes even hope. Some of his foundational beliefs about white people were downright poisonous—ideas he himself later repudiated. Yet, how could a book that contains poison be so good for my soul? That’s what I have been trying to put into words,” Rutledge says.

On Feb. 16 at 1:15 p.m. in Harold and Jean Miner Theatre, the artist Alicia Henry will hold a lecture.  Henry’s art exhibition “Home: Works by Alicia Henry,” will be in the Giertz Gallery Feb. 13–March 28 as well. On Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. there is a reception for the exhibition with a gallery talk.

On Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m., in the Student Union cafeteria, C&C Kitchen of Rantoul will cater a luncheon. They will be servicing a meal and dessert for a cost of $10.

On Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. in M128, volunteers will help the Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland repackage rice.

On Feb. 21 at noon in room C118, there is event called “Black Lives Matter: Mainstream Media v. Reality.”

Members of Black Lives Matter Network’s midwest chapters will talk about principled resistance, political education, and community building.

On Feb. 27 at 11:30 a.m. in U140, the Student Life Wellness Coordinator, Sara Maxwell, will host a lecture called “Stop Lying, Doc! The Relationship of Medical Professionals and African Americans.”

The lecture will explore the mistrust between African Americans and medical professionals and where this mistrust “possibly originates and how it affects the relationship between the African American community and overall health outcomes,” says Maxwell.

This lecture is also “about empowering the African American community to be health advocates and to encourage each other to go to the doctor for routine physicals and to seek healthcare from a professional when needed,” says Maxwell.

Sanders hopes all Parkland students attend Black History Month Events, so they can “understand that black people have a lot to be happy about but” there are still many ways the community can move forward. More information about these events can be found on the Parkland homepage.