Wednesday Feb. 1 is the first day of Black History Month – a month-long celebration of the contributions and achievements of Black, Caribbean and African diasporic peoples.
At McMaster, the Black History Month Planning Committee, in partnership with the Equity and Inclusion Office and the Black Student Success Centre, is kicking off Black History Month with a day-long Black Expo in the Student Centre atrium and marketplace.
With a focus on Black Excellence: Maintaining the Momentum, the Black Expo will start at 11 a.m., featuring a market of local Black vendors, curated by BLK OWNED Hamilton; guest speakers, including community and university leaders; a steel pan performance by LuckyStickz; spoken word performance; and digital art exhibit by the Canadian Multicultural Inventors Museum.
The digital art exhibition is a walkthrough storytelling experience that highlights key moments in Black history, curated by Francis Jeffers from the Canadian Multicultural Inventors Museum. The museum highlights the achievements of innovators from diverse backgrounds to inspire innovative thinking in young people, especially those who might not otherwise see themselves reflected in the people they look up to.
In the afternoon, there will be a number of prominent speakers, including McMaster President David Farrar; Clare Warner, senior advisor for equity, inclusion and anti-racism; Sophia Holness, senior manager of information technology; Terri Bedminster from the City of Hamilton and REFUGE; McMaster instructor and local civic advocate Kojo Damptey; professor Ameil Joseph; student Anuoluwa Popoola, president of BAP-MAC — the Black Aspiring Physicians of McMaster.
McMaster graduate, Hamilton poet and spoken word artist Eddie Lartey will also speak at Black Expo.
The poster for Black Expo features the Sankofa bird, a metaphorical symbol used by the Akan people of Ghana, generally depicted as a bird with its head turned backward, taking an egg from its back. It expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress.
“The beauty of this work is that we need each other; staff, faculty students, alumni and community partners,” says Faith Ogunkoya, manager of the Black Student Success Centre at McMaster.
“Our collective wisdom, action, strength and commitment to keep the momentum going is what is required to eradicate racism from our society. There must continue to be movement! We will not be defined by racism, but the past must never be forgotten.”