A performance by a professional poetry and drama group, visits to local African-American churches, an African American author Read-In and a Soul Food Banquet are among the ways that Black History Month is being commemorated during February on the Tusculum College campus.
Near-daily events and activities, both on and off campus, have been scheduled through the efforts of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, a division of Tusculum’s Office of Student Affairs.
New to the program this year is a campus African American Literature Read-In, sponsored by Dr. Taimi Olsen, professor of English at the College. The event will be held all day in the Niswonger Commons Living Room on Feb. 3, and students and faculty will be reading selected titles throughout the day. According to Olsen, more than 30 students have already signed up to participate. The event is part of the national African American Read In, sponsored by the National Council for Teachers of English.
Some of the students participating in the Read-In may be choosing to read selections from the Monday Memoir Series, that include “The Color of Water” by James McBride and “Open Wide the Freedom Gates” by Dorothy Hight. The series is sponsored by the Tusculum College African American Book Club.
Students will have the opportunity to test their knowledge of African-American history facts at the Black History Bowl at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3, in Chalmers Conference Room in the Niswonger Commons.
Other events scheduled throughout the month include a performance by the Black Sunshine Poets, who will perform on Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pioneer Perk in the Niswonger Commons. The professional poetry troupe uses their lyrical skills, creativity and talent to perform original pieces that are both thought provoking and entertaining as they display the originality of African-American literature.
According to Student Life Coordinator Bonnie Taylor, during Sundays in February, Tusculum College students will also invited to take a closer “Look at the History of the Black Church.” On Feb. 8, students will visit Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, on Feb. 15, Tate Memorial Chapel and on Feb. 22, Friendship Baptist Church.
For a celebration of the culinary aspect of Black History Month, the College will sponsor a Soul Food Banquet in the dining hall on Feb. 17 from 5 – 7 p.m. And on Feb. 24, “Dessert and Discussion: Women’s Panel” will be held. At this event, students are able to interact with professional minority women from the Northeast Tennessee area. Topics will include networking, making and utilizing contacts and other professional preparation information and advice. The event will be held in the Hurley Room in Niswonger Commons at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Feb. 21, the College will sponsor a “Service on Saturday” event in conjunction with the Bonner Leaders Program. “Students are going to be working with elementary school children in the area teaching the basics of basketball and interacting as mentors,” Taylor said. Participants should meet in the Pioneer Gym at 2 p.m.
Tusculum College students and the community are also encouraged to visit the special Black History exhibit in the Living Room of the Niswonger Commons. The “mini-museum” features information about African-Americans who have made significant contributions in the history of the nation as well as its cultural, sport and political life.
The Multicultural Affairs Office also has offered students the opportunity to participate in the fourth annual Black Issues Conference at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Transportation will be provided for registered students to attend the conference and attend a series of workshops throughout the day. Taylor said the workshops will focus on issues in African American community and personal development workshops. “This is an annual event that we find offers a wide variety of options and provides sessions that touch on many issues within the minority community,” said Taylor.
On campus, there will be Thursday Film Series, beginning on Feb. 12, with the featured film “Voices of the Civil Rights.” On Feb. 19, the film will be “Fisk Jubilee Singers,” and on Feb. 26 the featured film will be “Marcus Garvey.”