Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Black History Month at Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges

A celebration of black history that includes music, dance and theater performances at Cuyamaca College and an African-American Read-in at Grossmont College are among February’s Black History Month events.

Included among the events will be tributes to iconic figures like Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama, Maya Angelou and others, in addition to lesser-known names such as Daisy Bates, a civil rights heroine who led the charge to desegregate the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957.

At Grossmont, this year marks the college’s joining in the national African-American Read-in launched in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. A year later, the national council in its entirety joined in the sponsorship and since then, more than a million readers from every state, the District of Columbia, the West Indies, and African countries have participated.

Grossmont College’s debut is set for 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, and will feature students, faculty, staff, and community members reading and performing literature by current and past African-American writers, including Lucile Clifton, M.K. Asante, John Newton, Malcolm X, Toni Morrison, Patricia Smith, Jacqueline Woodson, Nina Simone, and W.E.B. Dubois. Grossmont College student Christian Bell will read his original poem, “Different.” Hosting will be English Professor Sydney Brown, coordinator of the Creative Writing program, and counselor James Canady. 

Both Brown and Canady will be among the evening’s presenters, along with retired Emory University English Professor Frances Smith Foster, author and editor of many scholarly books, including the “Oxford Companion to African American Literature” and “Norton Anthology of African American Literature,” and vocalist Michael Morgan, founder and director of the African-American Music Foundation. 

Highlighting the month at Cuyamaca College is “Paving the Way,” a Feb. 26 celebration of black history that includes musical performances, theater, dance, politics and more. Set for 7:30-9 the Performing Arts Theatre, the production showcasing the accomplishments of such influential figures as Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Alvin Ailey will be directed by the brother-and-sister team of Robert J. Chambers and Sakeenah Gallardo, both educators and college district alumni. 

Cuyamaca College’s Black History Month events are:

  • Through Feb. 29: A library display on the first and second floors
  • Tuesday, Feb. 9: Movie screening of “Selma,” followed by discussion at 11:30-2 p.m. at the Performing Arts Theater, Building B
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17: A workshop presented by Hurricane Katrina survivor Dr. Tanis Starck, assistant dean of special projects at San Diego State University’s School of Education, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the Cross Cultural Center (Student Center, I-128) The workshop is “And Her Name was Katrina: Life After the Storm, a personal guide through a reflective journey of social justice and inequality in America.”
  • Thursday, Feb. 18: Stop by the Cross Cultural Center (Student Center, I-128) to participate in various activities sponsored by the Associated Student Government from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 25: Introduction to the Black Student Union of Cuyamaca College from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on the Grand Lawn. Hear from students, community organizations, black businesses, and local speakers. Free food will be provided.
  • Friday, Feb. 26: “Paving the Way,” a celebration of black history that includes musical performances, theater, dance, politics and more. Set for 7:30-9 the Performing Arts Theatre. Cost is $8, general admission; $5 for students with identification cards.

Grossmont College’s Black History Month events are:

  • Wednesdays through Feb. 24: “Jazz Kitchen” features Jazz Studies student performers led by Music Department chair Derek Cannon and lunch specials including pulled pork sandwiches and jambalaya at Griffin Grill in Griffin Center
  • Tuesday, Feb. 16: African-American Read-In at 7-8:30 p.m. in Room 26-220; campus and community members will read and perform works of African-American notables
  • Tuesday and Thursday, Feb. 16, 18: Two transfer workshops about Historically Black Colleges and Universities at 5 p.m., Feb. 16, in 70-103, and 2 p.m., Feb. 18, in Room 70-104
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17:  Documentary screening and discussion of “Black Latin America” at 12:30 p.m. in Room 51-575. This documentary explores the almost unknown history of black people brought to Mexico and Peru as early as the 16th and 17th centuries. History Professor Carlos Contreras will lead discussion before and after the screening.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23: Discussions and screening of “Daisy Bates: The First Lady of Little Rock,” presented by History Professor Adisa Alkebulan at 4:30 p.m. in Griffin Gate in Bldg. 60.

All events are open to the public. With the exception of “Paving the Way” on Feb. 26, all events are free. Proceeds from “Paving the Way” will cover production costs, as well as a donation to the local nonprofit, FANCY (Focused and Naturally Confident Youth) for inner-city and foster youth.   

Grossmont College is at 8800 Grossmont College Drive. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in the community of Rancho San Diego. For more information about the colleges, go to

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