February is Black History Month, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of Multicultural Affairs is hosting events celebrating and educating others about African-American culture.
Nicholas Banks, an Office of Multicultural Affairs staff member, said that this year will have a mix of new and returning events.
Kicking off UNO’s Black History Month observance is Gospel Fest on Feb. 1, a returning event celebrating religiously themed hymns. The event will have participation from several churches and local gospel artists.
“I think everyone was able to come and join and hopefully take something away regardless of your religious affiliation,” Banks said.
Last year’s Gospel Fest took place on the UNO campus, but this year it will be held at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Free garage parking will be available for those attending the event.
Every Thursday in December, there will be on-campus screenings of “Hidden Colors” documentaries. The four installments shown throughout the month will explore people of color’s untold history from all around the globe.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs is partnering with UNO’s Department of Black Studies for the “Hidden Colors” screenings.
Featured speaker Anand Prahlad will host a reading from his book on Feb. 7. Prahlad’s book, “The Secret Life of a Black Aussie,” is a memoir about his experience as a black man diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
On Feb. 8, urban violinist Daniel D will have a musical performance in the Milo Bail Student Center ballroom. His music is known for bringing urban vibes to a classical instrument.
“Anybody than can take some-thing that may not be broadly associated with the urban environment or hip-hop culture, those things, to be able to do that with a violin is the merging of two worlds,” Banks said.
The Black History Month open mic night will be returning on Feb. 20. This evening will give students a chance to perform, speak and share ideas with the UNO student body and local community.
The open mic night will also feature readings from works produced by the Divine 9, who are nine historically black fraternities and sororities that have ties to many important activists and scholars. Additionally, the Meet the Greeks event on Feb. 27 will be providing information on the Divine 9 and how to get involved.
Rounding out Black History Month will be a panel discussion on local history in the Criss Library on Feb. 28. The event is part of Criss Library’s ongoing oral history project.
Although Banks said he thinks the upcoming events will be fun, he also wants participants to take away a greater understanding of how important black history should be year-round.
“The entirety of a people cannot be encapsulated in the confines of one month,” Banks said. “If nothing else, Black History Month is really a stepping stone to be able to showcase the entirety of a people on a more grand scale, more consistently.”