Black History Month on, off campus

by Molly Crain
Staff Writer

February has been designated Black History Month by every U.S. president since 1976. The idea of an annual commemoration came from Harvard historian Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week in 1926. It is a time for celebrating African-Americans’ achievements and their important role in our country’s history. The city of Lexington and Transylvania are recognizing this time with many different events.

Although the date has passed, it’s worthy of mention that Bob Zellner gave a lecture on campus Feb. 2 entitled “On the Wrong Side of Murder Creek.” The lecture highlighted his experiences as a Freedom Rider.

The Transy theater department will present “Spinning into Butter,” a play about racial tension at a small liberal arts college. Written by Rebecca Gilman, it was named one of the best plays of 1999.

Senior Annie Barbera, who is directing the play, explained that the Transy production was consciously set during Black History Month. She expects it to make the audience “uncomfortable, in a good way.”

“It will cause the Transy community to think about their personal opinions about race, about diversity, whether or not our generation is really ‘colorblind’ or not,” said Barbera.

The neighboring Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center also has many events planned. The Lexington Ballet is performing “Ion Dance,” an African-American tribute that celebrates black musicians in history from Scott Joplin to Jimi Hendrix. Additional performances include the “Duke Ellington Jazz Series” and “BET All-Star Comedy Jam.”

The Black History Month documentary “More Than a Month” will be screened for free at ArtsPlace (161 N. Mill St.). Directed by Shukree Hassan Tilghman, the film explores his cross-country journey advocating ending Black History Month. Tilghman argues against relegating African-American history to the “coldest, shortest month of the year” and initiates a conversation and discussion of alternatives.

The University of Kentucky will be hosting several speakers including activist Kevin Powell and Professor Griff. Powell is a New Jersey native and writer. Professor Griff is a founding member of Public Enemy, spoken word artist and educator. Griff will be speaking in conjunction with the “Necessary!” exhibit of over 200 artifacts from the life and legacy of Malcolm X.

These are just a few highlighted events happening around town.

  • The Lexington Ballet presents “Ion Dance,” Feb. 10-11, 8 p.m., Lyric Theatre
  • Screening of “More Than a Month” by Shukree Hassan Tilghman, Feb. 16, reception at 6 p.m., film at 6:30, ArtsPlace
  • Transy theater presents “Spinning into Butter,” Feb. 17-19 and 23-25 (Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.), Little Theater
  • “Necessary!” exhibit and lecture by Professor Griff, Feb. 23, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (lecture at 6 p.m.), UK Student Center
  •  “The Duke Ellington Jazz Series,” Feb. 24, 8 p.m., Lyric Theatre
  • “BET All-Star Jam”, Feb. 25, 8:30 p.m., Lyric Theatre
  • “An Evening With Kevin Powell,” Feb. 26, 7 p.m., UK Memorial Hall
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