Black History Month Activities at BSU Begin Feb. 2

Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College will learn, honor and celebrate the contributions of African-Americans to the country’s history with a series of Black History Month activities beginning Feb. 2.

The month of activities kicks off with a celebration of the music of Langston Hughes, will feature presentations at both BSU and NTC, and includes appearances by Dr. Jason Sole, author of “From Prison to PhD: A Memoir of Hope, Resilience and Second Chances,” and Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Feb. 2-3 – Film Screening, “Marshall”

BSU will host free screenings of the 2017 feature film “Marshall,” which follows Thurgood Marshall (played by Chadwick Boseman), the first African-American member of the U.S. Supreme Court, through a challenging case he faced early in his career as an attorney for the NAACP. Marshall travels to Connecticut, where partners with Sam Friedman (played by Josh Gad), a local Jewish attorney who has never tried a case, to defend black chauffeur Joseph Spell against charges of sexual assault and attempted murder by wealthy socialite Eleanor Strubing (played by Kate Hudson). Marshall and Friedman contend with racism and anti-Semitic views from a community which believes Spell to be guilty while mounting their defense.

The song “Stand Up for Something” from the film’s soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award in Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) in 2018.

The film will screen Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in the Crying Wolf Room of BSU’s lower Hobson Memorial Union, and Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. in the Upper Deck of Walnut Hall.

Feb. 6 – “The Langston Hughes Project”

The music of Langston Hughes is featured in a live, multimedia concert performance, “Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz” by The Langston Hughes Project. The performance will feature live music from a jazz quartet and poetry readings set to images of the Harlem Renaissance.

Ask Your Mama is Hughes’s homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. It is a twelve-part epic poem, which Hughes scored, with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop and progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha” and Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso and African drumming. At the time of his death in 1967, Hughes had not yet performed the work.

“Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz” begins at 4 p.m. in Bemidji State’s Beaux Arts Ballroom. Admission is free for all.

Feb. 13 – “Understand the Past, Respect the Future”

Dr. Brian Xiong, coordinator of the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will present “Black History Month: Understand the Past, Respect the Future.” The presentation will focus on groundbreaking achievers in history, such as the first African-American judge and the first African-American pilot in the U.S. Army.

Xiong’s presentation begins at noon in Northwest Technical College’s Room 315. It is open free to everyone.

Feb. 14 – “Black Leaders Who Paved the Way for Racial Equity”

Xiong and Dr. Jesse Grant, BSU’s interim dean of students, will present “Black Leaders Who Paved the Way for Racial Equity” beginning at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 in BSU’s Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, located in the upper Hobson Memorial Union.

The presentation will focus on individual leaders who spent their lives crusading for racial equity, and briefly explain their impact on the country’s history. It is open free to everyone.

Feb. 20 – “From Prison to Ph.D.”

Dr. Jason Sole, a former drug dealer, leader of a notorious street gang and three-time convicted felon turned author, university professor and community leader, will give an author talk on his book, “From Prison to Ph.D.: A Memoir of Hope, Resilience, and Second Chance” at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 in BSU’s Beaux Arts Ballroom. Today, Sole is the present of the Minneapolis chapter of the NCAACP and a professor of criminal justice at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

Feb. 22 – “Common Bonds for a Greater Minnesota”

BSU will host a presentation by Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota Council on American-Islamic Relations, to kick off the leadership studies program’s fourth annual Leadership Series lectures on Feb. 22.

The 6 p.m. presentation will be held in Room 103 of BSU’s American Indian Resource Center. It is open free to anyone who wishes to attend.

Hussein’s presentation will explore Minnesotan values of race, religion and creed, and will include a question-and-answer session on Islam and Muslims.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations addresses organized Islamophobia in the form of smear campaigns and targeted acts of violence. It also addresses less-organized forms of Islamophobia, such as workplace and street harassment.

Bemidji State University’s Black History Month activities are sponsored by the American Indian Resource Center, the Hobson Memorial Union and Campus Activities Board, the BSU leadership studies program, and the departments of criminal justice, social work and psychology.



Bemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,100 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding.

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