Berks celebrates Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, the Penn State Berks Multicultural Office will hold several events in February and March.

Students will travel to the Central Pennsylvania African-American Museum (CPAAM) on Saturday, Feb. 11. The site of CPAAM is the Old Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is and the oldest African-American-owned church building in Reading and Berks County, a registered landmark and a stop on the Underground Railroad. Students must sign up in the Multicultural Office in the campus' Perkins Student Center.

There will be a presentation titled "One Drop: Fact, Fiction or Fate" by Yaba Blay from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium. This lecture provides a brief social history of miscegenation in this country and the laws instituted to regulate social (sexual) interactions between the races. This presentation highlights the lived experiences of individuals for whom the “one-drop rule” exacts its influence most. Through dialogue, the speaker will attempt to address such questions as: What exactly is Blackness and what does it mean to be Black? Is Blackness a matter of biology or consciousness? Who determines who is Black and who is not?

On March 23, there will be a second presentation by Yaba Blay titled "Light Skin and Long Hair: Challenges to Sistahood," from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in Room 3 of the Perkins Student Center. This lecture will examine the historical and contemporarily tenuous relationship between Black women based upon skin color and hair texture. This presentation highlights the lived experiences of women of African descent, who because of their “light skin and good hair” have faced multiple challenges in being recognized, accepted, or embraced as “Black women,” primarily by browner skinned Black women.

Yaba Blay is a visiting assistant professor of Africana Studies at Lafayette College, where she also teaches courses in women’s studies and gender studies. She earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from Salisbury State University, a master of education in Counseling Psychology from the University of New Orleans, a master of arts degree and doctorate in African-American Studies, and a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Temple University.

For more information, contact Karen Kihurani, Coordinator of Multicultural Programs, at 610-396-6080 or

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Last Updated February 09, 2012