SXU Commemorates Black History Month with Events and Film Series

Miryam Villarreal

February 15th, 2017

Saint Xavier University commemorates Black History Month (BHM) every year. The events are sponsored and brought to SXU by African American Student Diaspora Club (AASDC) and Black Student Union (BSU) in addition to University Ministry, Resident Life and Student Life.

During BHM, a variety of events occur in order to commemorate the month, such as movies, guest speakers, and open-mic nights. In an interview with the Xavierite, SXU student and co-president of AASDC, Paige Sammuels, explained that the initial planning of the events started during late Fall 2016. Moreover, she spoke about the importance of commemorating BHM at SXU.

“I feel it is important to shine a light on achievements in the Black community in order to bring awareness. You’d be surprised how many people participate in Black culture on a daily basis and have no idea about Black history,” she added, “I think it is particularly vital here at SXU because one of our core values is diversity. I believe [that], the more you know about a culture, past and present, the more open you are to said culture.”

SXU student Norris Campbell, President of the Black Student Union (BSU), also believes it’s important to celebrate BHM. “I feel that it is important to commemorate Black History Month at SXU because we are able to spread the knowledge of black history and make it possible for individuals of the African American community can have something to commemorate the past events in black history.”

Sammuels and Campbell believe the BHM events will impact SXU.

“I feel that the African American Achievement Awards (occurring on February 25th in the McGuire Hall) will have a higher impact at SXU because I feel that the individuals that receive the awards are able to show their achievement to the student body. The award show is here not only to commemorate Black excellence and achievement, but also to show talent and the artistic view the students have and give to the SXU community,” said Campbell.

“There is an event for everyone. There was the Hairitage event for the hair lovers, Kicking It Old School for music lovers, Birth of a Nation for film lovers, two lectures, and an award show. The diversity of events represents the diversity that exists just within Black culture, alone. Each event provides something new to learn and experience,” said Sammuels.

On February 21st, the film The Birth of a Nation will be showcased at 7pm in the McGuire Hall. It is part of this year’s SXU film series, which features films that are relevant to the holidays of the month that they are shown in. They are linked to national events such as the Presidential election, Hispanic Heritage, Black History, and Women’s History awareness months. In September, Hispanic Heritage month, the film Miss Bala was showcased; and in November, the month when the presidential elections took place, the film NO! was screened.

The Birth of a Nation narrates the story of Nat Turner, an enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in 1831 in Virginia. The movie stars Nate Parker as the protagonist, as well as the director and producer. The film was nominated and won multiple awards.

Black History Month calendar.

Dr. Alison Fraunhar, associate professor of the department of Art and Design, organized the film series. In an interview with the Xavierite, she explained that, in the past, she has organized them thematically, such as Film and Childhood, Women and Film, and Film and Music. With Dr. Fraunhar’s expertise, and over 20 years of experience in writing about and teaching film, she selects the most suited and relevant movies for the particular theme of the SXU film series -whether it’s an overall theme or related to specific events.

Dr. Fraunhar explained that these film series provide the value of having a communal experience while watching the films together. “In my opinion, it can really amplify the experience, it enhances it, it makes the experience more than just watching the movie at home, and furthermore . . . a discussion led by people who have expertise [allows you to] get so much out of your understanding and enhance your experience so it enriches it,” said Dr. Fraunhar

“I hope it opens a window on another kind of film spectatorship, another kind of film beyond the multiplex, and shows them that film, that maybe isn’t mainstream Hollywood, can be very rich and satisfying. And to share the experience of seeing films together and discussing films is also really satisfying, illuminating, and eye opening,” concluded Dr. Fraunhar.

Sammuels also hopes students take a new perspective on history after watching the film. “Too often, the story is told of the docile slave, and not of the rebelliousness that existed to fight the horrors of slavery. I hope it works to pique the curiosity of students as to what other stories have not been told to them.”

“I hope the movie educates the viewers into formulating their definition of race and also determining what is their place in society,” added Campbell. 

You may see the attached flyer with the list of all the BHM events and dates. You don’t want to miss them!

Miryam Villarreal

Senior News Editor

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