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Thursday, September 28, 2023


UH nurtures African American culture

From movie screenings to entrepreneurial expos, the University’s African American Studies program has filled its calendar in honor of Black History Month to provide awareness of African American contributions to society.

“Everyone can benefit from our program,” said LaShonda Williams, program manager for African American Studies. “The University of Houston is not just indicative of one culture, but it’s multicultural.”

One of the program’s main events will be a Buffalo Soldiers presentation by Captain Paul Matthews, curator of the Buffalo Soldiers Museum. This event will honor the U.S. Army’s all-black regiments and will start at noon Friday in the Rockwell Pavilion.

Williams said she thinks Matthews’ contributions have made his presentation the most notable in this year’s program.

“His ambition as a curator for the museum has led to him establishing this,” Williams said. “Just recently, he acquired a larger facility so that he could provide a thorough knowledge … and comprehensive tour of the various aspects of the Buffalo Soldiers.”

This particular event will be followed up at 2:30 p.m. by a screening of “Inside the Buffalo,” which is also a part of the program’s Africana Film Festival.

The film festival will kick off the program’s celebration on Monday with a screening of “Amazing Grace,” but will feature other video productions throughout the month like “Cry Freedom” and “Blood Diamond.” Both films are about apartheid and the use of Africans to mine for diamonds.

There will be members of the Hall of Fame on campus when the vice president of Curator Services for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum shares historical information from an athletic standpoint on the leagues at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in Room 628 in Agnes Arnold Hall.

Although there will only be a private meet and greet with two Hall of Fame members, Williams said she hopes this event will enhance the program’s curriculum.

“We can reflect and say, ‘Wow, prior to the National Baseball League, there was a Negro League when we weren’t allowed to play,’” Williams said.

The entrepreneurial expos throughout the month will create opportunities for students to gain insight from local small business owners on what it takes to own a business.

Juliet Walker, director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of Texas, will speak on becoming an entrepreneur from an African American standpoint, Williams said.

A series of readings and discussions entitled “Our Authors” will start Feb. 12 with Kameelah Martin, a visiting scholar, and end Feb. 19 with professor Aswad Walker. Both are reading excerpts of their recent publications.

There will be a dance performance by the Urban Souls Dance Company at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Cullen Performance Hall, an alternative for those who do not want to attend other presentations.

UH alumnus Ryan Dennis will wrap up this year’s events with his experience with Project Row House, a local nonprofit.

Although the program will host a variety of events, Williams said she expects to bring together the UH community.

“They create this nucleus and synergy of celebrating the excellence of the contributions of African Americans.”

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