Lafayette celebrates Black Heritage Month at the start of each spring semester in February. Below you will find our Black Heritage Month programming calendars from the past several years.
Black Heritage Month is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February and the United Kingdom in October.
Sourced by DePaul University’s Center for Black Diaspora, diaspora is the dispersion of a people, language, or culture that was formerly concentrated in one place, to scatter, to displace, to live in separated communities. When we say African or Black Diaspora, we are referring to the movement of Africans and their descendants to various parts of the world. Fueled by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the dispersal saw the rise in numbers of people of African descent in the Americas with the largest concentration, Europe, the Middle East among other places. The dispersement of African presence across these locations gave rise to nuanced and complex experiences and histories of Black people throughout descendant generations.
The precursor to Black History and Heritage Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.
For the Black History Month in 2019 Lafayette invited Bobby Seale as the keynote speaker. Bobby Seale, an African-American activist and co-founder and national chairman of the Black Panther Party, shared his personal history and encouraged student activism. Seale shared the backstory of how he and Huey Newton formed the political party in 1966, which aimed to “decrease apathy and increase consciousness.” The Black Panthers deviated from the nonviolent civil rights movement, taking a militant approach. Over time, Seale became more moderate and worked to spur social change within the system.