Black History Month events abound locally, starting today

Author and historian's lecture at the Wharton Center kicks off diverse happenings throughout Febru


THURSDAY, Feb. 1 — Lansing-area Black History Month events start today with the 24th Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, presented by the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University.

This year’s speaker is Tanisha Ford, a history professor at the City University of New York who has written four books on civil rights and Black culture and was named one of Root’s 100 most influential African Americans in 2019. Ford appears at 5 p.m. today at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.

The series continues on Feb. 8 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, 219 S. Harrison Road, East Lansing. M.C. Lyte, a pioneer of female rap music, will take the stage at 5 p.m. Lyte’s first album, “Lyte as a Rock,” released in 1988, has been cited as the first full-length project from a female rapper and as inspiring a generation of Black female hip-hop artists.

The third entry in this year’s series, at 5 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Wharton Center, features the Rev. William Barber,  president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, a social-activism group, and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Barber has been the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, for nearly 30 years and is founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School.

Dr. Rani Whitfield, a physician and former spokesperson for the American Heart Association, is the final lecturer. He’ll discuss Black men’s health at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at 5 p.m Feb. 23.

Another series of events is the 2024 Sankofa Black History Month Program, hosted by the MSU College of Education’s Office of K-12 Outreach.

Robert Green, a former dean of the MSU College of Urban Development, kicks off the program with a talk at noon Saturday, Feb. 3, at his namesake East Lansing elementary school at 1811 Pinecrest Drive.  He will discuss his recollections of Rosa Parks and the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

The series continues with a community conversation on leadership in higher education with staff from MSU’s Department of Police and Public Safety. It is scheduled for Feb. 10 at Erickson Hall, 620 Farm Lansing, but a starting time has not been announced yet.

Green will return for the third Sankofa event, at 3 p.m. Feb. 17 at Erickson Hall to reflect on the social climate on the MSU campus following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968.


• The East Lansing Public Library, 950 Abbot Road, will show a trio of films this month as part of its “Black History Month Teen Movie Days” series. The theme for 2024 is “African Americans and the Arts.” The first film, “The Hate U Give,” is at 3 p.m. today. “Soul,” the 2020 Pixar film starring Jamie Foxx, will play at 3 p.m. Feb. 15. It raps up with “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” at 3 p.m. Feb. 29. All three showings feature free popcorn while supplies last.

• The LookOut Gallery will hold an opening reception for the art exhibit “Making Space x Taking Space: Sam x Elijah” at MSU’s Snyder Hall, 362 Bogue St., at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2. The evening will include food and music and a meet-and-greet with Black artists Samantha Modder and Elijah Hamilton-Wray. Their exhibit will be on display until Feb. 23.

• Also this Friday, Black comic artist and cartoonist Keith Knight will join the 15th MSU Comics Forum for a discussion in MSU’s Main Library, 366 W Circle Drive, starting at 7 p.m. Knight, the author of comic strips “The K Chronicles” and “The Knight Life,” will touch on his creative process, which frequently explores themes of race, identity and other related social issues.

• The MSU Comics Forum continues at noon Saturday with keynote speaker Rebecca Wanzo. Wanzo, an academic from Washington University in St. Louis, specializes in African American culture and literature, critical race theory, feminism and fan studies.

• On Tuesday, Feb. 6, authors Orville Vernon Burton and Armand Derfner will hold a pair of Q&A sessions on their book, “Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court,” at MSU. The first is at noon at the MSU College of Law building, 648 N. Shaw. At 4 p.m., they’ll head to James Madison College’s Case Hall, 842 Chestnut Road, for the second.

• Wednesday, Feb. 7, MSU’s James Madison College will hold its second annual Black History Month Symposium with Kyra Bolden, the first Black woman to serve as a Michigan Supreme Court justice. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed her last year. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. at Club Spartan in Case Hall, 842 Chestnut Road at MSU.

• To celebrate Frederick Douglass’ birthday on Feb. 14, the MSU Main Library, 366 W Circle Drive, invites guests to help transcribe some of Douglass’ many letters in the “Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon.” The noon to 3 p.m. event includes free cake.

• MSU’s Murray Hall of Music, 333 W. Circle Drive, will host the MSU Professors of Jazz concert at 8 p.m. Feb. 16. The evening will highlight the work of legendary Black composer and saxophonist Oliver Nelson. Seven faculty members will perform alongside additional guests who have not yet been announced. Tickets are $12 and $10 for seniors and free for students with school IDs and anyone under 18.

• On Feb. 16, Everybody Reads, Books and Stuff, 2019 E. Michigan Ave., will host the “Children Are Our Future: Black History Month Celebration.” The event will include two Black authors, Dedria Humphries Barker and Veronica Wilkerson Johnson.  The evening’s book sales proceeds will go to the Uplift Our Youth Foundation.

• At 2 p.m. Feb. 18, the Transcendence Performing Arts Center hosts  "From Our Roots to Our Future" at The Bread House - Bethlehem Temple Church, 1518 S. Washington Ave. The afternoon will include “some of the most profound cultural entertainers in this area, nuggets of historical knowledge and African fashions, vendors and music,” an announcement said.

• “Resistance Training: Arts, Sports, and Civil Rights” — an art exhibit that opened at the MSU Broad Art Museum in September — will continue in East Lansing through Feb. 18. The exhibition explores the values shared between artists and athletes who seek to advance social justice issues.

• At noon Feb. 21, Angelica Bajos and Mark Powers of the Beal Botanical Garden will hold an educational session, “Beal Lunch and Learn: Black Botany,” at MSU’s Erickson Hall, 620 Farm Lane. The pair will discuss plants that are significant to well-being within the African diaspora.

• At 6 p.m. Feb. 21, a collaborative effort between the Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, MSU’s College of Music and the MSU Gospel Choir will bring a live performance called “Love Got Me Over: Singing to Freedom” to the Fairchild Theatre, 542 Auditorium Road at MSU. The concert, led by co-directors Phoenix Miranda, Caleb Robinson and Rashun Watson, will touch on Black history stories throughout its run.

• Another music-related event, “From Detroit to the Cosmos: Carl Craig on Techno and Afrofuturism,” will start 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at MSU’s Communication Arts and Sciences building, 404 Wilson Road, in partnership with WKAR. Carl Craig, a Detroit techno pioneer,  will discuss his work and how the Detroit techno scene has shaped contemporary Afrofuturism.

• The Lansing Charter Academy will host a Black History Month Celebration Feb. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. The evening will feature a gallery walk and a Black-owned business fair. Windermere Park Charter Academy, 3100 W. Saginaw St., will hold a similar gathering on Feb. 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. The first 150 to attend will get free food.


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