Black History Month Collage
"Blackness is not monolithic," says Chapman Director of Black Excellence and Achievement Justin Riley. "Our culture, our being, our identity, should be celebrated and looked at holistically and not just in one period of time."

Black History Month Series at Chapman Puts Focus on Celebrating Blackness Holistically – Past, Present and Future

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and the civil rights movement are just a handful of names that usually come to mind when hearing the words “Black history.”

Although monumental, these historical figures and events comprise only a fraction of a much longer and ongoing history, according to Director of Black Excellence and Achievement at Chapman University Justin Riley.

“Black history is often framed around the Jim Crow era and the civil rights movement,” says Riley. “But Black history happens daily. It’s not this frozen-in-time-moment of black and white pictures from the past. To ignore the present reality of things taking place in and around Black people and Black culture is a disservice to the month.”

Martin Luther King Jr.Aiming to move away from a static view of Black history, Riley and graduate assistant Schnayma Saint-Fort created 28 Days of Black History Month, a month-long series of carefully curated content that features something to read, something to watch and one interesting fact for each day of February.

From articles on police brutality and the 1619 Project, to videos on fashion and hair, the series covers a wide-range of topics that reflect the multifaceted and ever-evolving history of members of the Black community.

Saint-Fort, an MFA student in the screenwriting program, says helping co-create the series was an exercise in creativity and service.

“I love to create and I love to serve. This project gave me an opportunity to do both,” she says.

For Riley, education is the goal. He hopes people walk away not only with more knowledge about Black people and Black culture, but with a deeper curiosity to learn more. 

“Be open to learning. Engage meaningfully with the materials, and I think you’ll enjoy what you see, hear and read.”

View day one of 28 Days of Black History Month


Michelle Anguka

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