Plays, Talks, Film and Crafts Celebrate Black History Month on Campus

A seated man in jeans and a gray shirt gestures while speaking, his head tilted to one side.
LeLand Gantt will perform in "Rhapsody in Black" Feb. 14 the Performing Arts Center.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 6, 2024) — Every February, the University at Albany recognizes Black History Month by celebrating the achievements of African Americans and acknowledging their pivotal role in U.S. history.  Events around campus range from lectures and presentations to themed meals and art exhibitions.

Here are some of the happenings on campus. For more events, visit the website.

Lectures and discussions

Thursday, Feb. 8, two events with author Aaliya Bihal, whose debut story collection Temple Folks explores the experiences of Black Muslims as they grapple with the challenges of faith, family and freedom in America. Bilal will offer a craft talk at 4:30 p.m. in the Standish Room, 3rd floor, Science Library.  At 7:30 p.m. she’ll be in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall for a reading and conversation. Temple Folk was a finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction. Presented by the NYS Writers Institute.

Friday, Feb. 9, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Recent Political Changes and New Geopolitical Trends in West Africa, Campus Center Boardroom. Presented by the Department of Africana, Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies.

Adjoa B. Asamoah
Adjoa B. Asamoah

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration featuring speaker Adjoa B. Asamoah, a racial equity champion, award-winning social impact strategist, political operative and policy architect. Asamoah developed the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, which seeks to make discrimination based on hairstyle illegal in all 50 states. Asamoah also served as the Biden-Harris campaign’s National Advisor for Black Engagement. Register to attend the celebration. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Association, and Honors College in collaboration with the NYS Writers Institute.

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Connecting African Roots through Food, Humanities 290. Presented by Ildefonso Apelanz and the Department of Africana, Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies.

Performances and Events

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m. Rhapsody in Black, a one-man show written and performed by LeLand Gantt and directed by Estelle Parsons, at the Performing Arts Center. Part of the  Prime Performances series, the show explores Gantt’s personal journey in understanding and eventually transcending racism in America. Purchase tickets here. Supported by the University at Albany Foundation, University Auxiliary Services,Office of Intercultural Student Engagement and the Alumni Association. 

Thursday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m. The Moral Arc Toward Freedom: Lincoln, King, and the Emancipation Proclamation at the Huxley Theatre at the New York State Museum, Empire State Plaza. This kick-off event celebrates the launch of the museum’s new temporary exhibit and will feature poetry, readings of brief excerpts of historical documents, and a conversation with the audience about the complicated legacy of slavery and emancipation in the United States. Speakers include Patricia Spears Jones, the state poet of New York, Jennifer Burns, a lecturer in Africana Studies at UAlbany and Jennifer Lemak, chief curator of history at the NYS Museum.  Cosponsored by the NYS Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education and the Archives Partnership Trust in honor of African American History Month, in collaboration with the New York State Writers’ Institute.  

Seven students pose, seated in a group, with cameras in their laps or strapped around their necks
Seven area high school students will make presentations at 4 p.m. Feb. 20 at the University Art Museum at 4 p.m., and their photography will be displayed outside the Campus Center Ballroom at 7 p.m. at the MLK Jr. Celebration. (Photo by Jayana Espinoza)

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 4 p.m. Lenses: Youth FX Photo Presentation, University Art Museum. Seven local high school students, inspired by the works of the late photojournalist Gordon Parks and working with Youth FX in Albany’s South End, documented a changing environment, depictions of Black women in mass media and culture, and their own urban landscape. The students will give presentations at 4 p.m. at the University Art Museum; select photographs will be on display at 7 p.m. outside the Campus Center Ballroom as part of the MLK Jr. Celebration with Adjoa B. Asamoah. Sponsored by Youth FX, the Albany Institute of History and Art, the University Art Museum, UAlbany’s College of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 7-10 p.m. Fifth Annual Black Business Expo, Campus Center Ballroom, Black business owners on campus and in the community will be on hand to showcase their businesses, answer questions and offer advice. RSVP to attend. Presented by PWC, the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW).

At the MRC

The Multicultural Resource Center, Campus Center West B87 has a series of events planned, including:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2 – 4 p.m. Loving Yourself as a Black Woman, CC West Room B87. Stop by to paint mini bear keychains and discuss the black female self-love experience. Cosponsored by the Albany State University Black Alliance (ASUBA).
  • Monday, Feb. 12, 406 p.m. Crafting: Collaging Black Intersectionality with ASUBA.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2 – 5 p.m. The Beauty of Black Heritage. Come add to the MRC’s BHM mural in CCW B87.
  • Thursday, Feb. 15, 12 – 1 p.m. Magnificent Moroccan Cuisines, MRC Learning Lounge. An informative program about the significance and history of classic Moroccan dishes.
  • Monday, Feb. 19, 4-5 p.m. Journey Through Black Music with ASUBA
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7 – 8 p.m. Resilient Radiance, MRC Learning Lounge. A presentation and conversation honoring the contributions made by historical Black women leaders that continue to resonate today.

BHM Movie Series

Free screenings sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center and shown in CCW B87

  • Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m. High on the Hog How African American Cuisine Transformed America
  • Monday, Feb. 19, 6 p.m. Whitney Houston — I Wanna Dance With Somebody
  • Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m. AJ and the Queen

Meals and deals

Presented by University Auxiliary Services and Sodexo:

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 11:30-a.m. – 2 p.m. A Taste of Harlem at 1844 Restaurant, 2nd floor Campus Center. Menu included Injera bread, fried chicken, cheesy grits with sausage and Creole-style green beans.

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 4 – 8 p.m. Cold Days, Caribbean Nights at State and Indigenous quad dining halls. A sampling of foods from the Caribbean islands.

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 11:30 – 2 p.m. Taste of Jamaica at 1844 Restaurant, 2nd floor, Campus Center.

All month. AcaDamien’s Bookstore is commemorating Black History Month with 20 percent off select in-store books.