2017 African American History Month

The 2017 National Black History Theme, designated by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, is “The Crisis in Black Education.”

“In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity--it is a prerequisite. And yet, we have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation.”

–Barack Obama


Margaret Taylor Burroughs (1915-2010), cofounder of the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Rhode Island College in 1990. Visit the collection of linocut prints by Burroughs in the Adams Library or view the collection online at

Wednesday, Feb. 1

2 – 4 p.m., DDC President's Dining Room
Embracing Diversity in 2017: What does it mean and what skills will it require?

In this discussion Deoshore Haig, LCSW (’95) defines micro-aggressions and facilitates a dialogue about the impact of micro-aggressions on inter-group social dynamics. Haig has worked with culturally diverse communities in social services for over 25 years and is trainer for “Considering the Value and Role of Culture and Diversity” in the Adoption and Foster Care Certificate program.
Sponsored by Gender and Women’s Studies Program

Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 6 & 7

11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Student Union Ballroom
Blood Drive & Marrow Registration

Roll up your sleeve and save a life! This blood drive commemorates Dr. Charles Drew, the African American inventor of the modern blood-banking process. Dr. Drew attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, received his first doctorate in medicine in 1933, taught surgery at Howard University Medical School and became the first African American to receive a Doctor of Medical Science degree from Columbia University.
Sponsored by the RIC Office of Health Promotion and the Unity Center

Wednesday, Feb. 8

Noon – 2 p.m., Horace Mann 193
Film: "13th"

This 2016 American documentary by director Ava DuVernay explores the history of race and the criminal justice system in the United States. The film’s title refers to the 13th Amendment. With commentary from Michelle Alexander and others, the film argues that mass incarceration is historically rooted to slavery.
Sponsored by the Unity Center

Saturday, Feb. 11 - cancelled and rescheduled for April 1

Symposium: “Next Steps in Exploring African American History”

This symposium continues the exploration of best practices in approaches to Black History in Rhode Island. The examination of the pedagogical approach to teaching Black History is continued from last year, when members of the 1696 commission explained their work. This event includes presentations on Rhode Island Black history, current classroom curricula, dramatic reading and the historical relationship between indigenous Rhode Islanders and those of African descent. Presenters include Ray Rickman from Stages of Freedom; Robb Dimmick from Educational Theater Collaborative; Joe Wilson Jr. from Trinity Repertory Company; the Rhode Island Historical Society; Richard Martin and Scott Bernstein from Cranston East, and Lorén Spears from Tomaquag an Indigenous Museum. Register online at:
Sponsored by Feinstein School of Education and Human Development and Delta Kappa Gamma Society

Monday, Feb. 13

12:30 – 1:50 p.m., Craig-Lee 203
Open Class: Contemporary Black Theatre

This class studies African American theatre in America and English-speaking Africa since the 1960s, with an emphasis on representative plays, playwrights, movements and artists. The class is taught by RIC adjunct faculty instructor and Mixed Magic Theater founder Ricardo Pitts-Wiley.

Monday, Feb. 13 – Tuesday, Feb. 28

Unity Center
Art Exhibit: Larry Sykes

Larry Sykes retired as a professor of art from Rhode Island College in 1995. There he developed the curriculum for the school’s photography concentration. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Morgan State University, Larry earned his master’s degree at the Pratt Institute in New York. During the 1960s, he served as Director of the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center at Morgan and later taught at New York University, the College of Art in Kumasi, Ghana, and the Parsons School of Design West Africa Program. Sykes also served as commissioner for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. His photography and illustrations have appeared in dozens of books and academic journals. Additionally, Sykes’ portraits have been collected and exhibited internationally. View his work in the Unity Center throughout the remainder of the month.
Sponsored by the Bannister Gallery and Gallery Z

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Noon – 1:50 p.m., Craig-Lee 231
Open Class: Critical Issues in Africana Studies

In this variable topics course students take a critical and empowering look at various cultural topics (e.g. music, sport and film) regarding people of African descent. The class is offered through the Africana Studies program and taught by RIC Assistant Professor of Sociology Sadhana Bery.

Thursday, Feb. 16

12:30 – 1:50 p.m., Craig-Lee 203
Open Class: Contemporary Black Theatre

This class studies African American theatre in America and English-speaking Africa since the 1960s, with an emphasis on representative plays, playwrights, movements and artists. The class is taught by RIC adjunct faculty instructor and Mixed Magic Theater founder Ricardo Pitts-Wiley.

Tuesday, Feb. 21

7 – 8:30 p.m., Student Union Café
Black History and Trivia Game

Contestants must be Rhode Island College students and are randomly selected from the audience. Contact the Unity Center for additional information at (401) 456-8791. Contestants receive a Black History Matters Hoodie sweatshirt to wear on Hoodie Day. Cash prizes include: first $100, second $50, third $25. Hint: Familiarity with African American History Month programming could mean a better chance of winning!
Sponsored by the Unity Center

Wednesday, Feb. 22

12:30 - 2 p.m., ALEX AND ANI Hall 138
Film: “Dr. Charles Drew Determined to Succeed”

This short documentary focuses on Charles Drew, an African American medical doctor remembered as the inventor of the blood bank. He also established, and was the first director of, the blood bank of the American Red Cross. Despite rampant racial discrimination, Drew achieved an extremely high level of education and became a well-respected scientist, surgeon, inventor and professor. His discoveries and work in organizing and administering blood banks in Europe and the Pacific during World War II saved countless lives. The film is followed by a brief discussion facilitated by Unity Center staff
Sponsored by Office of Health Promotion

Thursday, Feb. 23

6 – 8 p.m., Craig-Lee 103
Open Class: Race and Justice

This class focuses on the intersection of race with crime, justice and the law and considers institutionalized bias towards specific racial groups in the legal and criminal justice systems. The class is offered through the Sociology Department and taught by RIC Assistant Professor of Sociology Sadhana Bery.

7 – 8:30 p.m., Student Union Ballroom
Reflections: “Growing up a Black Man in America”

This live performance dramatizes the Black male experience in America and its many highs and lows. The all-male cast explores cultural profiling, historical misunderstandings, and surviving an often hostile environment with dignity and humor. Performed by members of Mixed Magic Theatre, with a talk-back immediately following.
Sponsored by Student Activities and the Unity Center

Monday, Feb. 27

Hoodie Day (observed)

Wear your hoodie up all day long in memory of Trayvon Martin and the scores of other victims of racial profiling across the country. According to a July 2013 report on, the night Trayvon was shot to death by George Zimmerman, the hoodie he wore had a badge with a picture of his dead cousin pinned to it. He carried a bag of Skittles and Arizona watermelon fruit juice cocktail, which he had just purchased. Black lives matter; come to the Unity Center for Skittles and Arizona between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Supplies limited.).  Sponsored by The Unity Center

6 – 8:30 p.m., Roberts Hall Auditorium
Featured Film: "Moonlight"

In recognition of Black History Month, the Unity Center and the Africana Studies Program present the Academy Award winning film Moonlight. This timeless story of human self-discovery and connection is based on a true story and chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world. The film has received 8 Oscar nominations and has won a Golden Globe for Best Picture and a SAG award for Best Supporting Actor. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for a 6 p.m. screening; immediately followed by facilitated discussion. 
Sponsored by Academic Affairs

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For updated information on events, stop by the Unity Center (DDC lower level).

Reasonable accommodation for disabilities may be provided upon request by contacting the Disability Services Center at 401-456-2776.

Page last updated: Monday, February 27, 2017