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ASU students celebrate Black History Month

January 28, 2009
Performances, food festivals and speakers will commemorate Black History Month at the Arizona State University campuses in February. Students have organized most of the events, which celebrate black culture and history in America.

Toni Blackman, a musical performer who uses hip-hop music to promote positive images and encourage social responsibility and activism, will be the keynote speaker at 6 p.m., Feb. 9 on the Tempe campus in the Coor Building 170. She will speak on “The Intersection of Hip Hop, Education and Activism.” Her talk is free and open to the public.

Blackman is the first hip-hop artist chosen to work as an American cultural specialist by the U.S. Department of State. She has had residencies throughout Africa and has toured Southeast Asia as a musical ambassador for the Jazz at Lincoln Center program.

Also in Tempe, students are sponsoring a Soul Food Festival from noon to 2 p.m., Feb. 11 on Hayden Lawn and a play at 6 p.m., Feb. 26 in the Memorial Union Pima Room. The student organizers are members of S.T.A.R.S., a student success organization.

The West campus will host a Gumbo Challenge on Feb. 7 and an invitational summit for African-American high school students on Feb. 10 in La Sala. For details on the Gumbo Challenge, contact Jenny Davis at

Other events at West include an art reception and opening of new work by artist and professor Leandro Soto at 6 p.m., Feb. 12 in the IAP Art Gallery; a theatrical production of “House With No Walls” Feb. 12-15 and Feb. 19-21 at Second Stage West; an inspirational presentation by Fatimah Halim, president of Life Paradigms, and Alonzo Jones, ASU associate dean of student affairs, at 7 p.m., Feb. 17 in La Sala; and a one-hour sneak preview of the upcoming documentary about the plays of the late August Wilson, at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 25 in La Sala.

Jean Williams, a lawyer who became Arizona’s first African-American woman judge, will be honored at a Pioneer Award Dinner at 6 p.m., Feb. 28 in La Sala. In the 1960s, Williams defended more than 1,000 cases arising from civil rights marches. To R.S.V.P. for the dinner, call 602-543-5311.

Polytechnic campus events include a workshop by Toni Blackman from 2 to 6 p.m., Feb. 10 in the Union Annex Ballroom, teaching students how to improvise lyrics on different topics, also how to develop the discipline and leadership skills to serve as educators. A Prayer for Peace luncheon will be 11:30 a.m. Feb. 11 in the Student Union Ballroom A.

At the Downtown Phoenix campus, journalism professor Retha Hill will give a free brown-bag lecture at noon, Feb. 10 in The First Amendment Forum at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Her lecture is “The Media Portrayal of African Americans from MLK to Obama.”