‘Black in Time’ week begins the Multicultural Education Resource Center’s (MERC) long agenda of on and off campus events to celebrate Black History Month. An interactive exhibit simulation of the Montgomery bus boycott was displayed in the Bowman lobby gallery space last Monday.
Mikaela Serrano-Moore, an intern for MERC, began brainstorming for the ‘Black in Time’ event last September. Serrano-Moore then received help from Michael Obasohan, assistant director of diversity programs, with planning the event.
“The civil rights movement was an essential part to Black History Month. There was a lot of sacrifice and courage made by those who came before us that allowed for me and people like me to live as freely as we do,” said Serrano-Moore.
‘Black in Time’ week is a five-day interactive event that places exhibit simulations in various locations on campus for students to learn about key events that helped to shape the civil rights movement.
“A struggle I had was figuring out what would be eye- catching. It’s hard to catch the eyes of college students let alone keep their attention,” said Serrano-Moore.
The ability to experience and interact was necessary in Serrano-Moore’s arranging of the event. The moments included in the week-long event are the Montgomery bus boycott, student diner sit-ins, the Freedom Riders bus bombing, the Birmingham bombing, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
At the end of the week, all of the exhibit simulations will be moved to Bowman Hall’s lobby gallery space and remain on display for the month.
Obasohan said that MERC will be putting on various events in honor of Black History Month to educate the campus community.
“I hope everyone can take in why it’s important not to just celebrate black history during the month of February but throughout the entire year because there’s a lot of information, successes, and key moments to learn beyond just these 28 days,” Obasohan said.
Upcoming events that MERC has put together this month include multiple movie screenings of films like “Fruitvale Station,” “Love and Basketball,” and “Show Me Democracy” with a following student activist panel. MERC has put together dates for resource tables on black mental health, Feb. 12, and people of color in the LGBTQ community, Feb. 14, in collaboration with Counseling Services and the Identity, Gender, and Equity Center.
“I hope to start off this first week with remembering our roots and where we’ve come from. Then go on to celebrate those roots for the rest of the weeks,” said Obasohan.
MERC will also be collaborating with the Women’s Center for the Women of Color Dinner on Feb. 15, which is an invitation-only event that will include faculty and staff speakers and speakers from Williams College.
Obasohan said he is also putting together a Men of Color Dinner on Feb. 22, which will invite MCLA alumni of color to speak.
“I think it will be a good way to provide our men of color with role models that were in their shoes at one point. I want alumni, faculty, and staff to be there for them almost like a brotherhood,” said Obasohan.
The Men of Color Dinner is also an invitation-only event revolving around MCLA students from the Men of Color Initiative group, which Obasohan started last fall, and other men of color on campus.
“I started the Men of Color Initiative group because often men of color on campus are not on the top of the list to step up to be in leadership positions,” said Obasohan.
With various on-campus events, Obasohan said there will also be events off-campus to honor MERC’s celebration of Black History Month.
“I want to get the North Adams community and students talking to figure out solutions to creating an environment where students of color feel welcomed,” said Obasohan.
MERC is working in collaboration with the North Adams community this Winterfest by offering a community dialogue session with the campus conversation on race group in the downtown Design Lab on Feb. 17 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Further upcoming events include MERC collaboration with Aramark in the Centennial Room for the Soul Food Dinner Night with a special guest chef on Feb. 21 and a movie night at the North Adams Movieplex 8 for students to see the film “Black Panther” is being put together for Feb. 16.
MERC is working to spark conversations with all students and push the MCLA campus community to further work to create diversity and inclusion on campus this Black History Month.