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At NMSU, ‘Black history is American history’


“Black history is American history. It did not start with slavery,” said New Mexico State University Black Programs Interim Director Kimberly York.

Connecting black students and the community more directly with African American history is one of the goals of Black History Month programming presented throughout February by NMSU Black Programs and the NMSU Black Student Association (BSA).

All programs will be presented via Zoom and are free and open to the public, York said. This year’s theme is “Honoring our Past, Rising to the Challenge, Empowering Our Future.”

Events will include a wide range of topics—everything from music (West African drumming and dancing) to black health issues, the power of poetry, a movie and group discussion party and connections with NMSU faculty.

It’s the first Black History Month for NMSU senior Kiara Holloway as BSA president. She said she’s especially excited about the Black Style Showcase Feb. 19, which will include a panel discussion and feature styles from around the world.

York said Bey, who is a member of the Academy of American Poets, will present a powerful program Feb. 16.

“She’s amazing,” Holloway said.

Many of the presentations are collaborations with UNM, which Holloway said has “opened many doors.”

The Feb. 12 West African Drum, Dance and Art Experience “will get us dancing,” Holloway said. The event was poplar during last year’s Black History Month celebration, York said.

The month kicked off with Black Programs’ weekly “Black Excellence in Higher Education” podcast featuring NMSU black faculty and staff and included NMSU General Counsel and Chief of Legal Affairs Roy Collins, York said.

One of the goals for the entire month’s programming is to “broaden the significance of black history,” she said, and make it more relatable to NMSU students and the entire community.”   

In addition to highlighting icons of black history like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks, Black History Month also is “focused on lesser-known figures” of black culture who have made significant contributions in the arts, education and politics, said BSA Vice President Ignacio Alvarado.

Presenting the entire month’s programming via Zoom because of the pandemic has been a challenge, York said, but Black Programs “has not skipped a beat,” she said. “I think it speaks volumes about collaboration.”

For more information, call 575-646-4208 or email blackpro@nmsu.edu. Visit https://blackprograms.nmsu.edu/events/upcoming_events.html or https://blackprograms.nmsu.edu/resources/black-student-organizations/black-student-association-bsa.html.

NMSU Black Student Association schedules events

  • Wednesday, Feb. 3: Black Excellence in Higher Education podcast. The podcast series features NMSU black faculty and staff every Wednesday at 2 p.m. Zoom ID: 976 6526 8008.
  • 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5: Real Talk Netflix Party. 2020 film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Viola Davis, based on the play by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson (1945-2005). Zoom ID: 946 1455 0438. Real Talk is a weekly group discussion and debate hosted by NMSU Black Programs every Friday at 5:30 p.m. Zoom ID: 94614550438.
  • 5:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12: Creative Expression: West African Drum, Dance and Art Experience. A virtual interactive cultural experience featuring Fred Simpson. Zoom ID: 951 2058 0321.
  • 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16: Spoken Word: A Weapon of Mass Construction. Poet Laureate Honey Bell Bey of Cleveland, Ohio. Zoom ID: 945 9582 8613.
  • 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 18: Real Talk: One Movement, Many Platforms. NMSU Department of English assistant professor of critical composition and writing studies Eric A. House, Ph.D. House’s research is focused on black rhetorical production and writing systems. Zoom ID: 939 8358 9086.
  • 5:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19: Black Style Showcase. Fashion show in collaboration with the University of New Mexico Black Student Union. Zoom ID: 991 2539 2021.
  • Noon, Tuesday, Feb. 23: Black Health Matters Fair. Includes a special interactive feature: “Keep It Moving,” with Dr. Patrick Turner. Zoom ID: 945 6570 9586.
  • 5:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 26: Black Mental Health Matters. An open discussion with licensed professionals. Zoom ID: 910 6936 8906.