Clark State to observe Black History Month with educational opportunities, events, celebrations

Clark State College’s slate of events celebrating Black History Month is just one example of how the school places a priority on building a sense of community.

“A key part of that is acknowledging the diversity that exists in our community,” says Breion Hawkins, diversity coordinator at Clark State College.

February will include events to recognize notable figures in Black history while also showcasing the talents of Black artists, authors, actors, and other individuals. Events will take place at the college’s main Springfield campus as well as at regional campuses, with opportunities for students, faculty, and staff, as well as for members of the community.

“Throughout this country’s history, Black voices, Black culture, and Black contributions have been silenced, uncredited, or simply overlooked,” Hawkins says.

Events like those at Clark State create opportunities to embrace their stories and spotlight their sacrifices and achievements, she says. Events this month include:

Black Author Book Display and Black History Month Trivia
When: Throughout February

A book display at the Springfield campus’s Clark State Library will feature Black authors, contributions, and more. Internal employees also can participate in weekly email trivia regarding Black history and contributions.

Art Noire
When: Feb. 2 and 3
Now in its third year, Art Noire will feature artists, panel discussions, businesses and vendors under its theme of “Love Black.” Located at the Springfield Museum of Art, the community event is sponsored by Clark State. 

Black History Month Displays/Tables
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 6 (Beavercreek campus), Feb.13 (Bellefontaine campus), Feb. 20 (Xenia campus) and Feb. 27 (Springfield campus)
Students can win prizes at displays featuring information and trivia.

Sip 'n' Paint
When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7
Open to the community, the event will feature artist Zuri Cole and focus on art and community through the lens of identity, heritage, and culture. Registration for the event is free with both a virtual option and a limited in-person option at the Springfield campus.

“Harriet” Film Showing
When: 11 a.m. Feb. 13 in the Applied Science Center Room 125 (Springfield campus)

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to a showing of the movie “Harriet,” about abolitionist Harriet Tubman, her escape from slavery, and her efforts to liberate slaves through the Underground Railroad. The event is in collaboration with staff member John Minter.

Line Dancing
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 22 in LRC Room 207 and 209 (Springfield campus)

Learn popular line dances with Jaizane “Jai” Russell, a native of Dayton. All members of the community are welcome to “Line Dancing with Jai” to find out more about this form of bonding and socialization that occurs within Black culture as well as other cultures. Registration for the event is free, but tips are welcome for the dance instructor.

African American Read-In
When: 11:30 a.m. Feb. 29
Participants throughout the community are invited to choose a text by an author who is Black, African American, or of African descent to read, followed by a recap of their reading experience. The read-in is meant to both honor the past and help make sure that diverse voices aren’t silenced. The event is in collaboration with faculty member Tabitha Parker, who can be contacted by email here in order to sign up as a reader.

While Black History Month often has been seen as a time to “educate, educate, educate,” Hawkins says that the month now intertwines education with engaging events and celebrations. And all are welcome to celebrate, she says.

Hawkins, who has been in her position at the college for two years and is Clark State’s first diversity coordinator, says diversity will always be present – whether it is race, gender, interests, or backgrounds. Celebrating and supporting the differences while acknowledging what we all have in common will help bring us together. 

“It’s all about intentionality,” she says.

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Read more articles by Diane Erwin.

Diane Erwin is a freelance writer and former reporter for the Springfield News-Sun. A graduate of Ohio State University, her articles have appeared in a number of publications in Springfield and Dayton. In addition to her journalism background, she has worked in marketing and written copy for businesses throughout the country. In her spare time, she likes to read, dream about Schuler’s donuts, and travel near and far with her husband and two children.