Black History Month: ‘Powerful Beyond Measure’

February 2, 2011

Mary Baldwin University’s celebration for Black History Month started in January with the 20th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight March and Kwanzaa celebration, but African-American history will echo throughout February with the theme “Powerful Beyond Measure.” There are events planned for students, faculty, staff, and members of the Staunton community to come together to remember the legacies of black leaders and their contributions to America.

BHM poster

“Black History Month is a time when we stop to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions that African Americans have made in this country,” said the Rev. Andrea Cornett-Scott, associate vice president for inclusive excellence. “Our theme this year incorporates the college-wide theme of power with the idea that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Baldwin Program Board, the Ida B. Wells Living and Learning Community — one of Mary Baldwin’s gateways for entering students — and black student organizations such as Black Student Alliance, Libations, and Anointed Voices of Praise will sponsor a number of events and opportunities to commemorate the history of African Americans. The college events calendar lists the entire Black History Month schedule.

Events kicked off on February 1 with the Stone Soul Picnic in Hunt Dining Hall, complete with soul music and soul food. The menu included a plethora of delicious Southern food such as fried chicken, collard greens, jambalaya, and many more treats.

The celebration continues with an Umoja House open house and a writing workshop led by Dara Moore ’02. Nelly Echo, an accomplished singer-songwriter and guitarist, will give a soulful performance in the Nuthouse and there will be a community service event during which students will read African-American themed books to local children. A Black History Month art show in Deming Student Art Gallery will highlight African-American student artists and near the end of the month, the theatre troupe Kuumba Players will present The Colored Museum, featuring a cast of students and alumnae.

Yvette Parham, Melissa Anoh, Sienna Fleming, Aqua Corbett, and Kirsten Hogan celebrate Kwanzaa 2011

A prelude to the official start of Black History Month, Kwanzaa remains a favorite tradition among many students, staff, and faculty at Mary Baldwin. This year’s celebration was held January 22.

“I always enjoy the Kwanzaa celebration. Even though it’s in January, the week before Black History Month begins, I still count it,” said Amber Wilkins ’11.

The event epitomizes the significance of African-American traditions and the crucial role that the past plays on shaping the future. It unites the Mary Baldwin family and the Staunton community for a night of celebration, remembrance, and honor. Kwanzaa also marks a rite of passage for first-year African-American students. It is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Ida B. Wells, but the event embraces students from all gateways.

All students, faculty, and staff at Mary Baldwin are encouraged to join the celebration this month to honor of the long history of African Americans and their contributions to society.

“Our campus prides itself on being an inclusive community; sharing in these experiences we resist the urge to be a melting pot and gather the tools we need to be a true salad bowl where various parts are celebrated and appreciated for who they are,” Cornett-Scott said. “While February is the shortest month, we do our best to pack it with as much history and culture as we possibly can.”