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Princeton hosts Black History Month events that connect, educate and celebrate

Feb. 16, 2021 4:46 p.m.

Black history is a part of all our histories. In recognition of Black History Month, Princeton University will host virtual conversations, classes, exhibits and educational resources that recognize the lives and achievements of Black people in the context of Princeton’s and the country’s history.

While many events were held earlier this month, the following is a list of Black history-related programs still to come. All events will take place virtually. If you would like to add your department’s upcoming event or ongoing program to this story, please email Emily Aronson in the Office of Communications.

The Campus Color Line

“The Campus Color Line” with author and UCLA professor Eddie R. Cole will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25. Cole will be in conversation with Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter, with an introduction by President Christopher L. Eisgruber. The conversation is co-sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and the Office of Communications.

Cole, an associate professor of higher education and organizational change at UCLA, will discuss his new book “The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom.” Focusing on the period between 1948 and 1968, the book illuminates the important role of college presidents — including Princeton’s Robert F. Goheen — in the unfinished struggle for racial equity in education and beyond. Registration is required to attend.

Black History Month 2021: Future Now!

The Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding presents “Black History Month 2021: Future Now!” The program is sponsored by the Black History Month Planning Committee with the Office of Religious Life, Office of Sustainability, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Women*s Center and the LGBT Center. Registration information is available on the Fields Center calendar.

“Future Now!” includes the following upcoming events:

  • “The Black Cooking Show” at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21.
  • “If These Stones Could Talk: Uncovering Lost Black History in the Princeton Area,” a conversation with authors and historians Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23.
  • “Black Influencers Panel” with student content creators and influencers at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26.
  • “Curlchella,” an event celebrating natural hair care and makeup, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.
  • “Carving Out Space,” with Black alumni sharing how they carved out their own spaces and leadership on campus, at 5 p.m. Monday, March 1.

Princeton University Library research guides and Griffin Memorial lecture

The Princeton University Library (PUL) fourth annual Gillet G. Griffin Memorial lecture at noon Friday, March 5, will feature Raina Lampkins-Fielder, curator of The Souls Grown Deep Foundation. The Souls Grown Deep Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of communities that gave rise to the art made by African American artists of the South. Registration is required.

PUL also has catalogued its many electronic resources and research guides that speak to the contributions of Black leaders and communities. Resources available to students, faculty and staff include:

  • The HistoryMakers, a database of oral history interviews with more than 2,600 historically significant African Americans in fields such as the arts, business, education, entertainment, the law, the military, politics, religion and science.The Black Arts Research Guide, which looks at Black arts from the 1800s up to the present and compiles databases and primary source materials, including the Princeton University Art Museum's African American Print Collection.
  • To support research related to the Black Lives Matter movement, PUL has compiled a research guide with information about systemic racism and activism.
  • PUL has begun a nearly comprehensive collection of current newspapers published for African American audiences throughout the United States, featuring 72 newspapers from cities and towns in 32 states, ranging from New York City to Eutaw, Alabama.
  • Selections from the Mudd Library blog highlighting materials of Black and Latinx people in the Princeton University Archives.

History and Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in the United States

The Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education will present talks over the coming months on the “History and Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in the United States.” The program brings together scholars and academics from institutions around the country, examining the constraints Black entrepreneurs faced, how many of these constraints have become institutionalized over time, and the creative strategies Black entrepreneurs employed to succeed.

The Keller Center series features the following talks:

  • “Owning Their Stories: How Black Abolitionists Survived – and Thrived – in Ireland,” at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, with Christine Kinealy of Quinnipiac University.
  • “African American Business, Entrepreneurship and Capitalism, 1619-2021: Where Do We Go From Here?” at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18, with Juliet E. K. Walker of the University of Texas at Austin. Walker is also the founding director of the Center of Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology. 
  • “Exoduster Entrepreneurs: Creating Black Business Communities in the West” at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25, with Martin Ruef of Duke University and Ihsan Beezer of Rutgers University.
  • “Standing on Shoulders: The Contribution of Black Entrepreneurship to the Continuous Rebirth of the Black Bourgeoisie, Data Through Time and Space,” at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, April 8, with John S. Butler of the University of Texas at Austin.

Princeton University Art Museum class and artist talk

Screenprint of a scene with people surrounding a table

"The 1920's...The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots," 1974, printed 1975. Jacob Lawrence, American, 1917–2000. Printed at Ives-Sillman Publications. Color screenprint.

The Princeton University Art Museum and the Arts Council of Princeton will host a live, art-making class at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s work “The 1920's . . . The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots.” Lawrence’s colorful screenprint is part of the museum’s African American Prints collection. Lawrence (1917-2000) is known for his narrative pictorial compositions that depict significant historical events, such as the Great Migration or the life of Frederick Douglass, as well as scenes of the everyday life of African Americans.

On Thursday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m., the museum will host an artist talk with Glenn Ligon and Hilton Als about ways in which art can engage and rethink the most urgent issues of our time. Ligon's art draws on literature and history to explore race, language, desire and identity. Als is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and critic, and the inaugural Princeton Presidential Visiting Scholar

Harlem Renaissance-inspired art and reading

The Princeton University Humanities Council is partnering with the Arts Council of Princeton to sponsor online public events for Black History Month. Up next is the free virtual workshop “Harlem Renaissance and the Art of Collage” at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. Join local artist Kenneth Lewis Sr., in an exploration of the Harlem Renaissance and the collage work of abstract artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988). Using basic supplies found around the home, learn how to utilize the power of collage as an art form. All ages are invited to join this special hands-on celebration of art, history, and the possibilities of this exciting form of creative self-expression.

On the subject of the Harlem Renaissance, Princeton’s Eddie Glaude Jr., curated a guide of key books to understanding the Harlem Renaissance for Oprah’s Book Club. Glaude is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies and the chair of the Department of African American Studies. Glaude’s most recent book is “Begin Again,” on the life and legacy of James Baldwin.⁣⁣⁠⁠

Princeton Athletics Black History Month

Princeton Athletics is curating videos, photos, stories and other content celebrating the achievements of Black student athletes, such as former Olympian and now physician Deborah Saint-Phard, a Class of 1987 graduate who was a member of the women's soccer and track and field teams while at Princeton. 

Princeton University Concerts' Collective Listening Project

Princeton University Concerts ongoing Collective Listening Project presents playlists in honor of Black History Month. Playlist No. 45 is by Shawn Maxam, senior associate director for institutional diversity and inclusion, and features Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson and Wayne Shorter. Playlist No. 43 is by lecturer in music Trineice Robinson-Martin, an internationally recognized jazz, gospel and soul vocalist and teacher. Songs include Hale Smith's "Evocations," Alma Bazel Androzzo's hymn “If I Can Help Somebody,” and Anthony D.J. Branker’s “Ballad for Trayvon Martin.”

“Black American Music maintains a specific cultural and social function that acknowledges, celebrates and ultimately epitomizes the journey of being Black in America,” Robinson-Martin wrote in presenting her selections. “These songs have encouraged me to reflect and continually reassess how the cultural and musical legacy of my ancestors and contemporaries have affected my understanding of who I am as an artist, educator and scholar. All rooted in the cultural function of Black music, I value how the composers and artists use their platform to inform their listeners, both consciously and subconsciously, of the multidimensions of Black excellence within the struggle.”

Read more

To explore other University resources related to Black history and its place within the context of Princeton University, visit: