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Artistic heritage takes center stage in Ohio University's Black History Month events

Ohio University celebrates Black History Month with spotlight on the profound contributions of Black Americans in the arts. 

Black History Month celebrations recognize the important contributions of the Black community throughout American history and society and resilience in the face of discrimination. The national theme for 2024 is “African Americans and the Arts.” The entire OHIO community is invited to join in this cultural celebration and appreciate the rich heritage and artistic influence that has shaped and continues to influence American society and culture.

“We use this month as a call to our OHIO community to study the history of Black Americans and help cultivate an environment where Black life can be sustained, protected and respected,” said Acie Clayborne, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center. “Our goal this year is to showcase representation of Fine Arts at the community level via artistic mediums including theater, visual arts, and music.”

The month kicks off with two events on Feb. 1, with student-led tours of Kennedy Museum of Art exhibitions, including “Centering Black Artists,” which aims to increase the visibility of Black artists, from 5:15-6 p.m., and a screening of “Black Panther” at the Athena Cinema starting at 7 p.m. This event will be the start of a month long film series called “Heroes in Color” that will be running throughout the entirety of the month of February.

The Black Student Cultural Programming Board presents “Apollo Night” at Baker Theatre, based on the show "Night at the Apollo," which means the audience will get to judge the quality of the performances. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $3.

On Feb. 3, the 2024 Sibs Weekend Concert featuring artists Skilla Baby, Rob49 and DJ Bandcamp as the opener at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available to purchase online.

Another highlight of the monthlong celebration is a presentation of the award-winning play, “Free Man of Color,” at Templeton Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 3 p.m.

Written by OHIO Distinguished Professor of Playwriting Emeritus Charles Smith, the play tells the story of John Newton Templeton, a formerly enslaved African American who graduated from Ohio University 50 years before the end of slavery in the United States. The play demonstrates how Templeton impresses on abolitionist Presbyterian minister and then-president of the fledging Ohio University Robert Wilson the true meaning of education.

The event is free with a suggested donation to the Division of Diversity and Inclusion.

Other notable campuswide events include a Feb. 8 Scholarship Award Ceremony and Dinner, a Gallery Talk with Dr. Brian Stephens, Assistant Professor of African American Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences, discussing “Blackness On the Run: Glenn Ligon’s Runaway Series.” Also at the Feb. 8 dinner, Dr. Andrea Frohne will discuss her research in AARSI's archives to celebrate the African American Research and Services Institute (AARSI).

The Andrew Jackson Davison Club at Athens City Schools is organizing the 5th Annual Black History Month Community Celebration. This year's event will be held on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Athens Middle School Auditorium. The Division of Diversity and Inclusion is sponsoring the event.

All events are open to current and prospective students, alumni, and the public. See the full schedule of events online and join OHIO this month in celebrating the diverse contributions of Black Americans to the arts.

January 31, 2024
Staff reports