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Queens College Celebrates Black History Month and Begins a Year of Events Examining African Americans' Essential Role in the American Experience

-- Highlights Include a Black Business Expo and a Celebration of Caribbean Culture --

QUEENS, NY, January 22, 2019 – A Black Business Expo will be among the campus events as Queens College celebrates Black History Month 2019 and begins a year-long exploration of the African American experience.

“This year we are expanding from the limitation of a single month to more broadly explore the essential part African Americans have played in the history of our country. So we’ll offer related events throughout the year for the benefit of our students and community,” said Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
The Black Business Expo on Wednesday, February 27, will provide an opportunity for students to network with successful African American business owners and learn how they were able to build their enterprises. The business owners will, in turn, be able to promote their businesses to the student body. This free and open to the public event will take place in the President’s Lounge inside the main dining hall from 5 to 9 pm.

Another kind of networking will take place as the college kicks off its Black History Month celebration with a series of monthly Lunch and Discussion sessions. Sponsored by the Queens College Office of the President, these unstructured events—open to all students, faculty, and staff—will encourage participants to interact over lunch with people they may not know too well. Each date will be structured around a particular question, topic, or performance that serves to drive the discussion.

The theme for the college’s month-long celebration is Sankofa: knowing the past to move into the future. This is reflected in many of the planned events. Sankofa is a word from the Akan people of Ghana. Artists, poets, musicians, and historians whose work is linked to the people of the Caribbean will be featured when the Queens College Caribbean Students Association hosts “Our Story,” a celebration of art and artists from across the Caribbean in the Student Union Ballroom on Thursday, February 28, from 9 am to 5 pm. 

The Guadeloupe Island Choir, a student choral group from the Lycée Polyvalent Charles Coeffin school in the Caribbean, will make its American debut at the college on February 22, at 7:30 pm, in the Aaron Copland School of Music, Choral Room 264.  The group of 10 students will perform mazurkas, beguines, boleros, and their local regional music, mostly a cappella in Creole, with some piano and drum accompaniment, in traditional dress. The Queens College a cappella group, the iTones, will also perform.

During another program, on Monday, February 25, students will share recollections from their participation in Queens College’s ongoing In the Footsteps of Dr. King program. Each year a group of students makes a journey through the historic landscape of the civil rights movement in Georgia and Alabama guided by veterans of that struggle who worked 
with Martin Luther King, Jr. Presentations will take place in the Student Union Ballroom West, during Free Hour, from 12:15 to 1:30 pm.
Queens College has long played a role in the struggle of African Americans for equal rights. In May 1965, King was the first speaker in the collegeʼs John F. Kennedy Memorial Lecture Series, highlighting the power of peaceful resistance in his remarks. “Nonviolence,” Dr. King said, “is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity.” A year earlier, during the Freedom Summer voter-registration project in Mississippi, Queens College student Andrew Goodman was murdered along with fellow civil rights workers James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. The collegeʼs Rosenthal Library clock tower is named for the three men. Over the years, the college has honored civil rights pioneers such as Aaron Henry, who received the Queens College Medal in 1990, and John Lewis, who received an honorary degree in 2009.

By extending black history beyond the month of February, Queens College hopes to better reflect the significance of contributions made by African Americans. At the same time, the college—which has students from more than 150 nations—will draw parallels between the experiences of diverse groups on campus and African-Americans, beginning conversations, finding common ground, and educating all participants.
Many prominent African Americans have graduated from Queens College, including Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, New York Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, New York Urban League Chairman Noel Hankin, former Vice Chairman of the CUNY Board of Trustees Philip A. Berry, and Olympic medalist Gail Marquis.
A complete schedule of events can be found at All events are free and open to the public.
About Queens College
Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors, and principals serving in New York City public schools. The college contributes to the local talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more computer science majors than any college in New York City. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors and performers who have received over 100 Grammy Awards and nominations.
Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its nearly 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college is cited each year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit our homepage to learn more.

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