LANSING - Communities in the Lansing area kicked off Black History Month last week with a variety of events.
Phi Beta Sigma held their “Essential Life Skills” Program.
Phi Beta Sigma, an African-American Fraternity, held a leadership seminar for young men at East Lansing’s Hannah Community Center. The conference included workshops on how to dress for success, how to combat bullying and police relations. Many students from Haslett and Okemos High Schools were in attendance.
Jonathan Gerry, founder of Haslett High School’s Black Student Union, said although he believes black history should be recognized more than once a year, he is happy that it is celebrated.
“I definitely support Black History Month and the ideals that there’s a specific month for African-American history, and there’s so much African American history,” he said.
Meridian Township Trustee Milton Scales, a member of Phi Beta Sigma, was also at the event.
Scales, the first African-American to serve on the Meridian Township Board, has been active in working to commemorate Black History Month in Meridian Township, proposing a resolution for celebration to his fellow colleagues.
For Scales, Black History Month is a time of reflection and progress.
“I’m five generations away from slavery,” said Scales. “ So Black History Month is an opportunity for me to truly understand where I came from and regroup and focus so that I am like a laser focused on improving my future and the future of others."
Lansing Community College is putting on a month-long program of events to commemorate black history.
All events are centered on the national theme of this year’s Black History Month: a century of black life, history and culture.
On Feb. 9, LCC’s performing arts department welcomed Detroit blues singer Thornetta Davis to the Dart Auditorium on the main campus.
Accompanied by the LCC faculty jazz quartet, Davis got the crowd singing and dancing with some original songs and covers of classic soulful tunes.
“We have this really diverse group of people from different departments who help put on a variety of events (for Black History Month),” said Melissa Kaplan, Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator at LCC. “Being in performing arts and music, I can bring to the party that part of the celebration.”
Other events the college will be sponsoring, all of which are free, include a business expo, dialogue series, civil rights workshop and a trip to the museum of African-American History in Detroit.
Michigan State University is holding a lecture series called “Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey” featuring renowned African-American leaders.
U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia, also Freedom Rider and author, visited the Kellogg Center on Feb. 6.
Actor Harry Belafonte will be at the Kellogg Center on Feb. 12 and Rev. Al Sharpton will be at the Wharton Center on Feb. 26.
Sparrow Hospital hosted the Black History 101 Mobile Museum on Feb. 4. The exhibit is curated by Michigan native Khalid el-Kahim and features artifacts commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. winning the Nobel Peace Prize.