Honoring Black History Month with Speakers in February

Honoring Black History Month with Speakers in February
Credit: gettyimages

Black History Month is an annual observance in the United States and Canada to celebrate and recognize the contributions and achievements of African Americans. It takes place in the month of February and serves as a time to reflect on the history of Black people and their impact on society.

CANONDALE, ILLINOIS — February will mark Black History Month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which will celebrate it with a number of activities, including distinguished guest speakers and an influential trip for students. Most events are free and available to the general public, and this year’s theme is “Power of Black Resilience.”

Renada Greer, executive director of the Student Multicultural Resource Center and TRiO Programs, said, “We’re looking forward to honoring Black History Month.” “It gives us a chance to remember the contributions and successes of African Americans while also promoting Black culture. To create a memorable experience during the month, we collaborated with the community, faculty, staff, and students.


Award-winning speaker and music at kickoff

The Student Center Auditorium will host a launch on February 1 at 5:30 p.m. to officially kick off the month.

The keynote speech will be delivered by leadership specialist Damon Williams, a researcher, educator, best-selling author, and keynote speaker. Williams, who has won the Western Reserve Academy Waring Prize and the University of Michigan Bicentennial Award of Leadership, has held the positions of senior vice president and chief education officer while overseeing the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s social impact portfolio. Based on his study, he introduced “the inclusive excellence model” in American higher education. He works to close the gap between education and the business, governmental, and nonprofit sectors while promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and leadership development.

The “Michael Jordan of the violin,” Lee England Jr., a graduate of SIU, will provide a special musical performance. England, who has collaborated with artists like Sean “Diddy” Combs and Quincy Jones throughout the years, is classically educated but performs a variety of musical genres on the piano, violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, drums, and other instruments. He also sings. He has done halftime shows in a variety of NBA stadiums and written the music for an NFL Super Bowl LXVII advertisement in which he also starred. Additionally, he directed violin vigils for Colorado-based Black massage therapist Elijah McClain, who passed away in 2019 following a run-in with the law.

The kickoff is open to everyone. Doors open at 5 o’clock.


Join the conversation

When Jett Hawkins, then 4 years old, was informed that his braids and later his ponytail were against the Chicago school’s dress code rules, he was sent home from preschool.

Ida Nelson, his mother, started working to raise awareness of the negative effects of stigmatizing children’s hair and how this can impede their academic growth. The Jett Hawkins Law, which forbids schools from establishing policies that discriminate against hairstyles historically connected with race, ethnicity, or hair texture, was passed as a consequence in 2021.

Learn more about Ida Nelson, Jett Hawkins, and the statute that safeguards hairstyles like braids, locks, and twists by attending “A Conversation with Ida Nelson: Jett Hawkins” on February 9 at 4 p.m. Nelson will discuss the journey she and Jett have taken and their ongoing initiatives to bring about constructive change.

She works as a member of the Chicago Public Schools Parent Leadership Council and is a Peyton Parent Fellow, interviewing candidates for political office to ensure that their values are in line with those of children, educators, and families.


Black History Month: More Activities Planned

Other noteworthy events for SIU’s Black History Month in 2023 include:

  • The Trap Training facility, Carbondale’s first Black-owned gym, is located on the strip near SIU, Kampus Kuts, and The Juice Cap. It will host a Black Health and Wellness Event on February 11 at noon. Owner Jonathan Battles will discuss the value of wellbeing and how to develop resilience by balancing a strong body and mind. Additionally, he’ll guide participants through a 20-minute workout. The event is accessible to everyone and is free, but registration is needed at office.com/r/FwiMbE6CqK.
  • Feb. 16 at 5 p.m., Student Center Auditorium, showing of “The Woman King.” The story of the Agojie, an all-female warrior regiment in the army of the African kingdom of Dahomey, is depicted in the 1820s period drama. In this 2022 Sony film, Viola Davis plays Nanisca, a commander who trains the next wave of soldiers to battle opposing tribes that threaten their realm and way of life.
  • The National Civil Rights Museum Experience is a trip to Memphis, Tennessee, on February 17 for SIU students, where they will visit museums and historic sites to learn more about the American civil rights struggle from the 17th century to the present. The beginning of the fight against slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the emergence of Jim Crow, and other events that motivated people all over the world to fight for equality will be covered through films, hundreds of artifacts, and expert lectures. Limited seats are available for the trip on a first-come, first-served basis, and students can sign up for it starting on February 1.
  • different activities and events ranging from roundtable discussions to movies to fashion shows and much more.


Learn more about Black History Month.

Visit the Black History Month website for a complete listing of events as well as more details on the many activities that will be taking place in February. In addition to the office of the Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, sponsors include the Black Resource Center a division of the Student Multicultural Resource Center.



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