Penn State campuses celebrate, commemorate Black History Month

February 2024 events include speakers, performances, exhibits, transcribe-a-thons and more
2024 African American Read-In Logo with the text Black Ecologies

The 24th annual African American Read-In at Penn State Altoona will take place Feb. 18-19. This year’s theme, “Black Ecologies,” celebrates environmental writing by Black authors who examine the human relationship with the more-than-human world. Their works explore topics from wilderness and outdoor adventure to gardening, geography, environmental science, urban nature, and issues such as environmental justice and climate change. This theme is as old as the 400-year African American literary tradition itself, offering the enjoyment of both contemporary and historical works across a range of genres such as poetry, short fiction, novels, and essays.

The logo for the 2024 African American Read-in was created by student artist Mekhi Hicks.
 

Credit: Mekhi Hicks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State campuses across the commonwealth will be holding events in honor of Black History Month. Here’s a look at some of the events and opportunities taking place at the University’s campuses during the month of February. This list will be updated as events are added throughout the month.

Penn State University Park

“Generations: Celebrating Black Designers” Exhibit — throughout February, on display on the monitor in the lobby of the Stuckeman Family Building. Compiled by Stuckeman professors Cathy Braasch and Marc Miller, the exhibition features designers from the three disciplines of the Stuckeman School — Architecture, Graphic Design, and Landscape Architecture. One hundred twenty-five years of design innovation and leadership are highlighted —recognizing trailblazers like Beverly Greene, the first female African American licensed architect in the United States; emerging professionals like typeface designer Osmond Tshuma; and rising role models like Ujijji Davis Williams, founder of JIMA Studio.

"Where Beauty's At": Expressions of Black Visual CultureFeb. 2–Sept. 9, Eberly Family Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library. Drawing upon Penn State's Special Collections and University Archives, the exhibition explores historical and creative works by Black writers and artists and considers the relationship between history, politics, creativity and visual expression. Works on view include poetry broadsides, posters, book cover designs, photograph albums and artists' books.

Welcome Event Dance Party — 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, Room 201, State College Municipal Building. Join Penn State dance groups as they perform to welcome the Ephrat Asherie Dance company to the community. Afterward, be ready to share your own moves during a dance party featuring a local DJ and light refreshments. The event is free, but registration is required.

Film screening of "Check Your Body at the Door" — 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5, 132 Flex Theater, HUB-Robeson Center. "Check Your Body at the Door" is a film about underground house dancers and dancing in New York City’s golden decade, the 1990s. Featuring interviews and rare dance footage with legendary New York club dancers, the documentary reveals the virtuosity of the eclectic urban dance style. The film will be followed by a Q&A with the dancers from the film who are also part of Ephrat Asherie's work "Underscored." The event is free, but registration is required.

"Underscored" by Ephrat Asherie Dance — 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, Eisenhower Auditorium. "Underscored" is a living archive of five generations of New York City club dancers. Celebrating and investigating their connections to the club scene from the 1970s until today, this work features Ephrat Asherie Dance ensemble members and club legends Archie Burnett, Brahms “Bravo” LaFortune and Michele Saunders, reflecting on decades of culturally reflective styles, including breaking, hip-hop, house, vogue, waacking and hustle. 

Douglass Day 2024 Transcribe-a-Thon — Noon-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, multiple Penn State locations; the University Park event will be held at Mann Assembly Room with a simulcast from Foster Auditorium, first floor Paterno Library. Register here to participate in the Douglass Day Transcribe-a-Thon at University Park. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year’s event features Douglass' correspondence from the Library of Congress. Event participants will attempt to transcribe all 8,731 (digitized) pages of his correspondence in one day. Presented by Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research, a partnership of the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries, and the Library of Congress.

Black History 101 Mobile Museum10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Feb. 21, 129 ABC HUB-Robeson Center. The Black History 101 Mobile Museum, established by educator and scholar Khalid el-Hakim in 1995, is a renowned repository of more than 10,000 original artifacts ranging from the trans-Atlantic slave trade to hip-hop culture, with a diverse collection of authentic documents bearing the signatures of revered figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, Carter G. Woodson, Mary Mcleod Bethune and many more. There will be a featured speaker from noon to 1 p.m. to give context on the museum. Food also will be provided. Learn more here.

Penn State Abington

Douglass Day 2024 Transcribe-a-Thon — Noon-2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, Abington Campus Library. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year’s event features Douglass' correspondence from the Library of Congress. Event participants will attempt to transcribe all 8,731 (digitized) pages of his correspondence in one day. Presented by Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research, a partnership of the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries, and the Library of Congress.

The Abington House: A Jazz Club Experience 6–8:30, Friday, Feb. 16, Banquet Room. Ever wondered what being in a Jazz Club felt like? This event is the perfect ambiance for you to experience! Join the Black Student Union and Soul Harmony for an eventful evening to remember. Register here.

Shine Your Light: A BSU x ACSU Showcase — 6–8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, Sutherland 9. Do you have talent? Do you want to show people what you’re made of? Shine your light with the Black Student Union and Afro-Caribbean Student Union! Register here.

Penn State Altoona

Step Afrika! performance 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, Wolf Kuhn Theatre. Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. It blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, traditional African dances, and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience. The performance is free and open to the public.

24th annual African American Read-InFeb. 18-19, various times, locations. This year’s theme, “Black Ecologies,” celebrates environmental writing by Black authors who examine the human relationship with the more-than-human world. All events are free and open to the public.

In addition to a Feb.18 community dinner and a Feb. 19 "Monday Marathon" open-mic event (sign up to read here), two featured talks will be presented. From noon to 1 p.m. on Feb. 19, Carolyn Finney will offer a keynote presentation in the Titelman Study. A Zoom option is available. Finney is a columnist at the Earth Island Journal, as well as an artist-in-residence and the environmental studies professor of practice in the Franklin Environmental Center at Middlebury College. At 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 19, featured author Tyree Daye will offer a reading of his works in the Titelman Study, followed by a book signing. Daye is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of the poetry collections "a little bump in the earth," "Cardinal," and "River Hymns," and a winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize. More details are available in this story.

Penn State Behrend

Rhythms of Life Series — noon Thursday, Feb. 15, Bruno’s Café. The Papa Mbaya African Ensemble will perform traditional dances and drum music from Senegal as part of the Rhythms of Life Series. The series, which is sponsored by Behrend’s Office of Educational Equity and Diversity Programs and the Student Activity Fee, features a variety of music, dance and storytelling from all regions of the world. All performances are free and open to the public. Details are at the Rhythms of Life Series webpage.

African American Coin, Currency and Stamp exhibit — 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, Reed Wintergarden and McGarvey Commons. A collection of coins, currency and stamps that feature Black Americans will be displayed in the Reed Union Building Wintergarden and in McGarvey Commons. The collection, assembled by Clifton J. Brown, founder of the African American Inventors and Inventions Traveling Museum, celebrates Black excellence: The U.S. government has minted commemorative medals featuring Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks, and the U.S. Postal Service has issued stamps honoring Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass and others.

Penn State Berks

Black History Month Spirit Week — Feb. 5-9. All members of the Penn State community are encouraged to dress in alignment with daily themes.

Boogie Down Skate Party — 10 p.m.–midnight, Saturday, Feb. 10, Skateaway (2275 Lancaster Pike, Shillington, PA). Tickets are $8 presale, $15 at the door.

Black Excellence Dinner — 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, Multipurpose Room 1, Perkins Student Center. Register for the Black Excellence Dinner here. Students and members gather to celebrate Black History Month.

"Being Black at Berks" (open to the public) — 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, Perkins Student Center Auditorium. "Being Black at Berks" is an annual showcase hosted by the Black Student Union. The event began in 2019 and provides a venue for members of the student organization and larger campus community to showcase their talents, culture and experiences. The event has been historically well supported, with Berks staff, faculty, students and local community members attending. Past events have showcased segments on hair and skin care and artistic performances. This year, an added highlight features arts and culture displays in the Freyberger Gallery.

Douglass Day 2024 Transcribe-a-thon — Noon-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, Thun Library 137. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year’s event features Douglass' correspondence from the Library of Congress. Event participants will attempt to transcribe all 8,731 (digitized) pages of his correspondence in one day. Presented by Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research, a partnership of the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries, and the Library of Congress.

Penn State Brandywine

Blooms of Heritage: A floral celebration of Black History MonthFeb. 5, 5-7 p.m., Student Union 114-117. Embrace the beauty of Black History Month in a floral celebration. Craft your own floral arrangement highlighting the king protea flowering plant, a symbol of South African heritage.

Black Student Union: Black table talk Feb. 7, 6-9 p.m., Student Union 114-117. Join the Black Student Union in an interactive discussion around goals and dreams. Participants will have the opportunity to design a tote bag during the discussion.

Soul Food Lunch with Valerie Erwin — Feb. 20, noon-1:15 p.m., Student Union 114-117. Valerie Erwin is a longtime Philadelphia chef and social justice activist. She will present the story of African food in America beyond soul food. Erwin will weave together the story of foods that remained virtually unchanged from Africa to America, dishes that morphed to accommodate new ingredients and circumstances, and dishes that were invented wholesale in America. A soul food meal will be served.

Black Gala — Feb. 23, 7-11 p.m., Student Union 114-117. Presented by the Black Student Union, the Black Gala embraces the beauty of Black culture and accomplishments. Dress in your finest cultural attire and join us for a celebration of unity, pride and excellence.

Black Joy in Philadelphia: Photography exhibition — All February, Student Union. Daniel Jackson of Embassy: Interactive interprets Philadelphia’s vibrant streetscapes through photography and video, creating visual narratives and telling stories through the lens.

Penn State Dickinson Law

In celebration of Black History Month, Penn State Dickinson Law’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) has announced a number of events in February. For more information about any of these events, contact BLSA President Romario R. Ricketts at [email protected].

  • Curtilage Comeback Block Party — 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, in Commons, Dickinson Law. Sponsored by the BLSA.
  • “Pardon Me” Documentary Screening and Reception — 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, in Room 110 and Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium, Dickinson Law.
  • Mid-Atlantic Black Law Students Association Convention & Awards Gala — 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Black Minds Matter & Family Dinner — 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Commons, Dickinson Law.
  • Social gathering at Hook & Flask Still Works — 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
  • Community Conversations with Dean Danielle M. Conway — 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, in Room 112, Dickinson Law. This event is In honor of both Black History Month and Women's History Month, and is hosted by Student Services in partnership with American Constitution Society, BLSA, and Women's Law Caucus.

Penn State DuBois

  • BHM Trivia Tuesday — 12:15–1:15 p.m. Feb. 6.
  • IDREAM Art Show — 4-7 p.m. Feb. 28. Open to the public.

Penn State Fayette

“Music of the Movement” Black History Exhibit — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, Community Center. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Explore the rhythmic journey of resilience and empowerment at the Black History 101 Mobile Museum “Music of the Movement” exhibit.  Immerse yourself in powerful artifacts of the Black experience that gave inspiration, hope and liberation to Hip Hop culture. For more information call 724-430-4271.

Douglass Day 2024 Transcribe-a-Thon — Noon-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, Eberly Building 113. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year’s event features Douglass' correspondence from the Library of Congress. Event participants will attempt to transcribe all 8,731 (digitized) pages of his correspondence in one day. Presented by Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research, a partnership of the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries, and the Library of Congress.

Penn State Greater Allegheny

Douglass Day 2024 Transcribe-a-Thon — Noon-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, J. Clarence Kelly Library. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year’s event features Douglass' correspondence from the Library of Congress. Event participants will attempt to transcribe all 8,731 (digitized) pages of his correspondence in one day. Presented by Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research, a partnership of the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries, and the Library of Congress.

Penn State Great Valley

Douglass Day 2024 Transcribe-a-Thon — Noon-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, Great Valley Library. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year’s event features Douglass' correspondence from the Library of Congress. Event participants will attempt to transcribe all 8,731 (digitized) pages of his correspondence in one day. Presented by Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research, a partnership of the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries, and the Library of Congress.

Penn State Harrisburg

Black History Month Digital Display Slideshow During the Month of February. Slides will be displayed to honor past and present, Black faculty and staff and celebrate their contributions to the Penn State Harrisburg community.

Read 365 — Through February. Penn State Harrisburg Read 365 readers are selecting to read books to celebrate Black History month. For more information, please contact Alyson Garland, Diversity and Educational Equity Committee (DEEC) Project Lead at [email protected].

Cultures of Movement Series – STEP Afrika! Workshop — Thursday, Feb. 15, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Capital Union Building, Room 219. This is an entry level workshop and a general introduction to the style of dance known as "Step." All students are welcome to attend. This workshop is a companion event to the theatrical performance at 7 p.m.

Cultures of Movement Series – STEP Afrika! — Thursday, Feb. 15, 7-9 p.m., Mukund Kulkarni Theatre in the Student Enrichment Center. Penn State Harrisburg Kinesiology's Cultures of Movement Series presents STEP Afrika! dance troupe, which has performed on the world's largest stages, for an entertaining and educational exploration of the Step dance style deeply rooted in African American culture. This is the first event in a series that brings together the science of kinesiology and the styles of dance and movement associated with different cultures. Register to attend on Engage or at this link.

Trip to Gamut Theater Play – The Jackson Rooming House: Music’s Resting Place — Saturday, Feb. 17, 6:15-9:30 p.m. Celebrate Black History Month and explore the Jackson Room House, a place that played a special and significant role in Harrisburg’s African American History. Students can register for this free event on Engage at http://bit.ly/3u07hYT.

Trip to National Museum of African American History & Culture Saturday, Feb. 24, 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Student bus transportation to and from Washington, D.C. to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. For more details and to register, visit Engage.

Black History Month Celebration Luncheon – Education, Celebration and Transformation at Penn State Harrisburg — Thursday, Feb. 29, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Capital Union Building, Room 210. Event will celebrate past, present and future Black individuals within the Penn State Harrisburg community.

Penn State Lehigh Valley

"Research and Clinical Insights on the State of Black Girls" presented by Marline Francois-Madden — 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, Room 135. Join the owner and clinical director of Hearts Empowerment Counseling Center, Huffington Post contributor, best-selling author of "The State of Black Girls," and 2007 Penn State alumna, Marline Francois-Madden for a discussion around the state of Black girls. Hosted by the Psychology Degree program at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Francois-Madden works with individuals with depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship issues and life challenges for the last 15 years, and practices therapy from a humanistic approach — focusing on supporting the client to understand their fullest potential. Francois-Madden has presented to the Congressional Black Caucus for Women and Girls and was named by the White House as a Nominated Changemaker at the "State of the Women" summit during the Obama administration. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Penn State, master’s in social work from Rutgers, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Montclair State University.

"Penn State University African American Chronicles" — 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, Room 135, Penn State Lehigh Valley. Esteemed Penn State University Alumnus Darryl B. Daisey, class of 1983, will discuss his website, "Penn State University African American Chronicles," which shares more than 110 years of the rich contributions, struggles and successes of African American Penn Staters in an effort to help inspire and empower students, faculty and staff, and reconnect African American alumni to the University. 

Black History Month Spirit Week Monday, Feb.19–Friday, Feb. 23, Centre Hall, Penn State Lehigh Valley. Hosted by the Penn State Lehigh Valley Black Student Union, the event features a week-long series of information tables and activities celebrating Black history and culture.

Penn State Schuylkill

Douglass Day 2024 Transcribe-a-Thon — Noon-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, Ciletti Memorial Library main floor. This event is open to faculty, staff, students and community members. Douglass Day is an annual program that marks the birth of Frederick Douglass. Each year, thousands of people gather to help create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. This year’s event features Douglass' correspondence from the Library of Congress. Event participants will attempt to transcribe all 8,731 (digitized) pages of his correspondence in one day. Presented by Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research, a partnership of the College of the Liberal Arts and the University Libraries, and the Library of Congress.

Penn State Scranton

Black Spirit Week — During the first week of February, Penn State Scranton's Black Student Union will hold "Black Spirit Week," to kick off the month. Events include:

  • Black History Month Kick-off with Cultural Cuisine, featuring local restaurant Caribbean Paradise at noon on Monday, Feb. 5, in The View Cafe.
  • Karaoke with the Black Student Union, at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, in The View Cafe.
  • Black History Month Bingo, at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 7, in The View Cafe.
  • ZUZU African Acrobats performance, at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, in The View Cafe.
  • Black Spirit Week Family Feud, at noon on Friday, Feb. 9, in The View Cafe.

Penn State Shenango

Black History Jeopardy — 12:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, in the Great Hall. Shenango Student Affairs will host a "Jeopardy"-style game to highlight some of the most significant contributions African Americans have made to U.S. culture.

Represent Your Culture Event — 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, in the Great Hall. The Shenango International Cultures Club invites the campus community to showcase its heritage using music, culture, food, etc., at an event in the Great Hall.

Lunch & Listen — 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the Great Hall. Brandon Wiley from Opened Eves will be sharing his vision of creating an inclusive environment and fostering culturally conscious conversations that inspire community growth, and enjoy a taste of culture while you listen featuring food from local diverse restaurants.

Quartez Harris Poetry Reading — 12:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, in Lecture Hall 223. "We Made It to School Alive," Harris' second collection of poetry, was inspired by his work as a teacher and gives voice to the experiences of the children he works with every day who deal with issues of gun violence, poverty, educational challenges and more.

Film: "Behind the Shield: The Power and Politics of the NFL" — 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Lecture Hall 222. Hosted by the Diversity Film Series.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Black History Month Celebration — 12:15-1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, Hayfield House Ballroom. A showcase of a collection of literary works, music, photographs and art that will highlight the journey of African Americans throughout key eras of American history. Light refreshments will be available.

Black History Month: Inventor’s Bingo — 12:15-1:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, Student Commons Stage Area. No prior knowledge is necessary! This is a unique version of bingo, where you'll learn about everyday items invented by brilliant black minds and win prizes!

Penn State York

Poster Display — Posters are being displayed throughout the campus during the month of February in celebration of Black History Month and highlight important facts and celebrations. The poster series is sponsored by the Penn State York Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee.

ZUZU African Acrobats — Noon–1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, Rosie’s Café in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. In celebration of Black History Month, the Zuzu African Acrobats will perform in Rosie’s Café in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. Hailing from Tanzania, ZUZU African Acrobats celebrate the two-thousand-year-old Bantu culture of East Africa. Each member of the cast has received special instructions from elders in the Bagamoyo Arts and Cultural Institute to perform these ancient traditions to audiences around the world. The show features fast pyramid building, limbo, chair balancing, comedy, fast skip rope, juggling, contortion, and much more, set to high-energy, fast-paced Lingala music. The group gained stardom after appearing on “America’s Got Talent” in 2009 where they were a semifinalist.

THINKFAST Trivia with a Black History Month Theme — Noon–1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, Rosie’s Café in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. Test your knowledge on subjects with a Black History Month theme and play THINKFAST Trivia in Rosie’s Café in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center on campus. Participants have a chance to learn something new and win cash prizes. 

Dwennimmen African Dance Community African Dance and Drum workshop — 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, Precision Custom Components Community Room, Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. The program is free and open to the public. The Dwennimmen African Dance Community, based in Harrisburg, was born eight years ago out of the love that Lark Daniel has for African dance and her desire to share it with the community. Participants will learn history specific to the traditional dance and drums being taught and how the instruments are made. In addition, those attending will learn a traditional song to go with the dance movements.

Pennsylvania College of Technology

Heroes of History display weekly, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., on Wednesdays, Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28. Each week will provides an overview of a “lesser-known” hero of Black history.

Penn College Discussion Series: “Race and Policing in America," 7-8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, Penn’s Inn, Bush Campus Center. Craig Miller, professor of history/political science, will facilitate a discussion about the topic with David Bjorkman, instructor of emergency management/social science, and community figures.