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Black History Month at UW-Madison: Events, celebrations during the month of February

The Black Cultural Center and Black History Month Planning Committee curated a month-long program full of speakers, performances and other events to highlight Black arts and culture.

The Black Cultural Center (BCC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison planned a month-long program to celebrate and commemorate Black History Month this February, entitled “Black Arts: Multiple Mediums, One Story.” 

The BCC’s Black History Month Planning Committee (BHMPC) centered the theme on arts and culture, which advocates for the celebration of art Black people have created throughout the years, whether that be through performing art, painting or quilting, according to the event’s site. The program aims to bring together and appreciate the creativity across the African diaspora.

“We shoot to show our experiences as Black individuals not just on this campus, but in everyday life through multiple different forms of art and events,” BHMPC Co-Chair Brooke Messaye said in an email statement to the Daily Cardinal. “Our goal is to not only further educate Black students, but to educate the entirety of the campus and community population.”

“We are trying to amplify the contributions Black people have made to the arts and continue that legacy,” she stressed. 

The BHMPC kicked off the month’s celebrations with a glow in the dark party titled “Glo Black to the 90’s” on Feb. 3 at the BCC Classroom in the Red Gym. Attendees dressed in ‘90s and early 2000s attire, and participated in creating a community art piece while learning more about the events coming up in February. 

The BHMPC also collaborated with various student organizations and campus partners to host other events throughout the month with the goal of highlighting Black art and culture. These include “Fashion Week: Walk the Walk” with the Wisconsin Black Student Union, a dance, a spoken word and experimental contemporary performance titled Moonshine with the UW Dance Department, and a screening of the short film “Wood Hood” with Outdoor UW. 

Significant highlights of the month’s celebration include two speakers the BCC is bringing in: Tyler James Williams and Angelica Ross. 

Williams, a 2023 Golden Globe winner and a star of several well-known TV shows including “Abbott Elementary” and “Everybody Hates Chris,” is this month’s keynote speaker. He will be speaking on Feb. 21 at Union South from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

“We are particularly excited for our keynote speaker Tyler James Williams,” said Aramide Adegoke, BHMPC’s publicity manager. “This keynote speaker allows us to learn about their form of art and how they use it to express themselves creatively.”

The BHMPC is collaborating with the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center to bring Ross in as a speaker. Ross, a born and raised Wisconsinite, was a series regular on shows like “Pose” and “American Horror Story: 1984.” She also founded TransTech, a company aimed at fostering tech skills primarily for trans people, and will be speaking on Feb. 28 at Memorial Union from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“The planning committee hopes to provide a month of programming to celebrate Black history, culture and identity. As a result, we hope that Black students have a space where they can be proud of who they are and can explore the rich history of the African diaspora,” said Lauren Adams, BCC coordinator and BHMPC advisor.

“This is so important for many of our students who are often the only Black person in many of the spaces they enter on campus,” Adams noted. “Ultimately, we hope these events will be a space of community and belonging for the students we serve.” 

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Students can look at the full list of events for Black History Month on the official UW-Madison Student Affairs website and follow the BCC’s social media page for updates on the month’s activities. 

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