UPDATE –  Please note that the Donna Brazile speech has been moved up to Feb. 27 (originally in March). Full release to come.

Fresno State is celebrating National African American History Month (also known as Black History Month) with its annual observance that will include such events as a public debate Feb. 12 and a roundtable discussion Feb. 17 titled, “Black Lives Matter.”

The campus observance, named African Peoples History Month by event organizers, kicked off with opening ceremonies Monday and includes a talk March 2 by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, senior pastor of the Chicago congregation once attended by President Barack Obama.

Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, now spends his time preaching, teaching and leading study tours to Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. A theological scholar, he specializes in Black Sacred Music, ethnomusicology and African Diasporan studies. He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

He was known as Obama’s pastor prior to his election, until controversy erupted in 2008 regarding Wright’s teachings that led to Obama’s speech, “A More Perfect Union.”

Other observance events include “Sistah to Sistah,” a discussion group every Thursday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Center for Women and Culture office in Thomas Building, Room 110, and the annual Africana Culture Night and Rosa Parks Awards at 6 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Satellite Student Union on campus.

This week, the Cineculture film feature, “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith and his son Jaden, depicts the success story of a homeless African-American man and his son based on the best-selling memoir written by Chris Gardner and Quincy Troupe. The free, public screening is at 5:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 6) at the Peter’s Education Center Auditorium in the Student Recreation Center Building (Shaw and Woodrow avenues).

The Black Agitprop Art Exhibit showcasing Americana visual history via African-American cultural and political art began Monday and runs through Feb. 27 in the Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony of the Henry Madden Library (third floor, north wing).

On the exhibit’s final day, Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, will deliver remarks at a reception there at 3 p.m. (Feb. 27).

The events are presented by the Africana Studies Program, Black Students United and the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute of Fresno State and other campus groups as part of the national observance proclaimed by President Obama and declared by every American president since 1976.

Wright’s talk is sponsored by the Africana Studies Program and the Black Faculty and Staff Association of Fresno State with Instructionally Related Activities funds distributed by Associated Students, Inc.

Dr. Francine Oputa, director of the institute, noted that the name of Fresno State’s observance was changed two decades ago by event organizers to African Peoples’ History Month in recognition of the African Diaspora, referring to large movements of people from their original homeland.

Fresno State’s departments of Ethnic Studies and Black Studies also were eventually changed to Africana Studies, she said.

See calendar of events at http://bit.ly/1CtPhmy. For location details not listed, call 559.278.6946.

  • Feb. 2-6     ONYX films festival series, 6-8 p.m., (University Center 123, except Tuesday – Thomas Building 110).
  • Feb. 3        Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., “A Day in the Life of…” Part II, 7:08-9:08 p.m. (Library 321).
  • Feb. 6        Cineculture “The Pursuit of Happyness,” 5:30 p.m. (Peters Education Center Auditorium).
  • Feb. 7        African-American Historical and Cultural Museum Trailblazers Banquet, 5 p.m., $100 per ticket.
  • Feb. 12      Public Debate: “The #Blacklivesmatter campaign is not an effective way to combat anti-black racism,” noon-1 p.m. (Free Speech Area).
  • Feb. 12      Webinar: “Counseling and Advising Strategies: Advancing Success for Men of Color in the Community College,” 10 a.m. (USU 312-314).
  • Feb. 17      “Black Lives Matter” Africana Studies Round Table Discussion, 6-8 p.m. (IT 101).
  • Feb. 19      Natural Hair Night, 5-7p.m. (Library 3212).
  • Feb. 21      NCBI Welcoming Diversity Workshop, 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. (Vintage Room).
  • Feb. 24      History in your Hands Project, 6-8 p.m. (Library 2206).
  • Feb. 27    Black Agitprop – Black art work reception with Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, 3 p.m. (Henry Madden Library Ellipse Gallery 3rd Floor)
  • Feb. 27      Africana Culture Night and Rosa Parks Awards, 6 p.m. (Satellite Student Union).
  • Feb. 27       Donna Brazile, author and political analyst, 5-6 p.m. (North Gym 118). NOTE: Brazile talk changed from March 6.
  • March 2     Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, 6 p.m. (North Gym 118).

For more information, call the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute at 559.278.6946.

For the Wright talk, contact  Dr. T. Hasan Johnson, 559.278.8805 or hasan.johnson@gmail.com.

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