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Santa Monica College Celebrates Black History Month

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By Niki Cervantes
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February 13, 2015 -- From song and dance to discussions about slavery, the Ferguson riots and the future of black America, Santa Monica College will celebrate Black History Month with a series of free events throughout the rest of the month.

Organizers said the event is a good opportunity to talk about race, including issues like Ferguson and racial profiling.

“I think it’s a perfect opportunity to have a discussion about race,” said Sherri Bradford, program leader for the Santa Monica College Black Collegians Program, which is an organizer of the event.  “It’s a great way for the campus to come together, for people from Santa Monica to come together.
“If we want to move to a place where race doesn’t play a role, we have to have those hard discussions about it.”

The event starts February 17 with “Celebrate Black History Month,” featuring performances in the spoken word, dance and song that showcase contributions made by African Americans to society. It is sponsored by the SMC Black Collegians Program, the Associated Students of Santa Monica College and the SMC Associates. Call (310)434-4232 for details.

Performances will be held at the SMC Quad at 11:15 a.m.

Payge Hopper, a personal development specialist, will lead “Healing the Wounds of American Slavery’s Relationships.” The discussion in this “interactive experience” will explore wounds, myths and stereotypes that “threaten to disintegrate the core relationships forming the infrastructure of the African American family,” according to college officials.

Bradford said organizers and others became familiar with Hopper at a conference in San Diego focusing on African American programs at community colleges and were highly impressed and emotionally touched.

“Some of the students (from SMC) who attended came out crying,” Bradford said, and wanted her to be included in the college’s black history month activities.
Hopper’s appearance is Thursday, February 19, at 11:15 a.m. in Art Lecture Hall 214. It is presented by the SMC Black Collegians Program and SMC Associates. Call (310) 434-4100 for details.

Angela James, professor of African American Studies at Loyola Marymount University, will discuss the contributions of African Americans in Los Angeles, beginning with the black migration to South Los Angeles. Her talk is Tuesday, February 24, at 11:15 a.m. in Humanities and Social Science 165. Her talk is sponsored by the SMC Black Collegians and SMC Associates. Call (310) 434-4100 for details.

A discussion of racial profiling of African American men will take center stage the Thursday, February 26, in a lecture by sociologist and California State University East Bay Professor Emeritus Benjamin Bowser.  His lecture, “It Is Bigger than Ferguson,” will look at racial profiling and the role individuals play in how the country defines race relations.

The lecture and discussion will be at 11:15 a.m. in Art Lecture Hall 214. It is presented by the SMC Black Collegians and the SMC Associates and is also part of the SMC Global Connections Series and SMC Literary Series.  Call (310) 434-4100 for details.

Later in the day, Black History Month will present “Notes on Failure,” a talk by artist Tameka Norris. Norris is a SMC alumna whose works have appeared in galleries and museums, including the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (New York) and the Walker Center for Art (Minneapolis).

Norris will talk at 2:30 p.m. at the Art Lecture Hall 214 about her perspective on failure, highlighting her trajectory from her first semester at SMC to the present. The event is presented by the SMC Art Department and the SMC Associates and is as part of the SMC Art Lecture Series.  Call (310) 434-8266 for details.

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