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Queens College Celebrates Black History Month With a Look at Past and Present

-- Highlights Range from a Reprisal of a Classic Jazz Collaboration to a Talk with the Youngest Member of the State Assembly --

QUEENS, NY, January 29, 2021 – Queens College announced a full calendar of events for Black History Month—celebrating Black history, culture, and achievements while also addressing today’s struggles for racial equity. This year these events have gone virtual, making them readily accessible to the broad audience that cannot attend them in person during the pandemic.

“In 2020, we all witnessed many racial injustices,” said Queens College President Frank H. Wu. “Many among us were acutely aware of this. But they were revealed publicly in a manner that could not be denied, captured on camera and described in compelling personal testimonies. These appropriately sparked discussion and action. Determined Black organizing for social justice inspired people of all backgrounds, not only in America but around the world. We believe it has become more important than ever to celebrate Black History Month. We hope that the past and the present of the Black community will be discussed meaningfully, within the intellectual traditions of Queens College, to bring about understanding and change.”

Wu led the way with Queens College’s annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On Sunday, January 17, he and Zaire Couloute, QC Student Association President, cohosted a virtual and free program in honor of Dr. King as well as murdered civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, who was a QC undergraduate at the time of his death. The program, The Time Is Now: Forward! featured Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson ’19, as well as performances by Antonio Hart (Aaron Copland School of Music) and vocalist Alita Moses. Due to the widespread interest it generated, that program, and the lively discussion that followed, will remain available online through Black History Month. Watch the virtual presentation here.

Among the newest college initiatives is its forthcoming Big Ideas project, which will spotlight the expertise and creativity of Queens College faculty. Leading the way, in the first installment of the series, is a profile of Education Professor Lenwood Gibson, who works to combat racial disproportionality in special education.

The many contributions of Queens College and its students to the civil rights movement are documented in the Civil Rights Archive, held in Special Collections at Rosenthal Library. The continuing concern of today’s college community is represented in courses throughout the curriculum, and also is evident in several cultural events that have been organized for this year’s Black History Month.

Notably, the Louis Armstrong House Museum, together with the Forum for Cultural Engagement through the U.S. Embassy of Moscow, will present The Real Ambassadors in Concert, on Tuesday, February 9, at 1 pm. Click here for more information. The concert will reprise the complete original album from 60 years ago, featuring a jazz musical written in Louis Armstrong’s honor by Dave and Iola Brubeck. The groundbreaking album featured numerous jazz greats, including performances by Armstrong and Brubeck, and addressed international racial politics through storytelling and satire.

In addition, the Kupferberg Center for the Arts will host The Music of Haiti (Saturday, February 20, at 3 pm), featuring acclaimed Haitian American vocalist Pauline Jean alongside two legends of Haitian music, accordion master Richard Duroseau and percussionist Mario De Volcy. A journey through the musical heritage of Haiti and the African diaspora, the concert brings together a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration of musical stars across three generations.

Also in February, Queens College’s Godwin-Ternbach Museum will post information online highlighting four Black artists whose work is held in the museum’s collection: M. Jume, Robert E. “Bob” Fletcher, Claude Clark, and Hale Aspacio Woodruff. Their life stories, and reflections on the African and African American experience, offer profound insights into the meanings of Black History Month.

Many talks by academics, activists, and others are planned for the month. Among them, recently elected Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson (D-NY)—a QC alumnus, the youngest member of the State Assembly in 20 years, and the youngest Black member ever—will discuss youth activism (Friday, February 5, from 10–11 am). Others will address such varied topics as the future of Black women in the technology sector, the role of theatre in social change, and hip-hop, including a performance and workshop. For calendar and event information, visit the Black History Month web site here. Events will be livestreamed here.


Publicity images are available for download here​.

These events are being sponsored by the Queens College Office of the Provost, the Queens College Foundation, the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, and the Louis Armstrong House Museum at Queens College; special thanks go to Soribel Genao, Provost’s Diversity Fellow, the Black and Latinx Faculty and Staff Association (BLFSA), the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU), and the Office of Student Affairs for working to organize these events and more that will be underway during February and beyond. 

Visit the Queens College homepage for further announcements.
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Maria Matteo
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