Penn State campuses offer events in honor of Black History Month

January 28, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State student organizations and units at campuses across the commonwealth will be holding events in honor of Black History Month. Here’s a look at some of the events and opportunities taking place at the University’s campuses during the month of February.

This list will be updated as events are added throughout the month; the University community is invited to send diversity and inclusion events for consideration to


Through Feb. 28 — Selma March incentive. Join Campus Recreation in recognizing and honoring the historical significance of the three 54-mile marches from Selma to Montgomery that took place in March 1965. Run, walk, bike, row, elliptical or swim your way to Montgomery for the equivalent distance of the marches, which were held to demonstrate Black citizens’ desire to exercise their constitutional right to vote and to protest segregation in the South. More information is available here.

Through Feb. 28 — "Move for Your Health" — Using fitness classes and conversation, the importance of movement to a student’s health will be highlighted in each class, which also will provide an opportunity to learn of different health inequities faced by members of the Black community. Additionally, classes in WERQ and BUTI Yoga formats have been added throughout the month. More information is available here.

Throughout February — The Eberly College of Science will be featuring stories from its Black students, faculty and alumni as part of its celebration of Black History Month.

Feb. 1 through 22  — The Eberly College of Science features four virtual speakers in the NOBCChE Chemistry Seminar Series, hosted by the Penn State Chapter of NOBCChE. Register here.

  • Feb. 1, at 4 p.m. — Professor Lesley-Ann Giddings, Smith College, Department of Chemistry
  • Feb. 8, at 4 p.m. — Professor Sidney Wilkerson-Hill, UNC Chapel Hill, Department of Chemistry
  • Feb. 15, at 4 p.m. — Professor Andre Clayborne, George Mason University, Department of Chemistry
  • Feb. 22, at 5 p.m. — Jonathan Jones, Fermentation Research Team Leader at Corteva Agriscience

Feb. 2, at 1–2:30 p.m. — The Africana Research Center will host Nickolas Gaines, a pastoral psychotherapist, international speaker, educator, and veteran, who will present "Radical Wellness: "Will You Focus On Me? – Educator Self Care Workshop." Gaines works as a public high school campus administrator focusing on culturally responsive pedagogy, trauma-informed instruction, social emotional learning, family engagement, and equitable discipline policies in a Dallas area school district. More information is available here.

Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m., online Mwenso and The Shakes virtual concert and live discussion. The ensemble will return to the Center for the Performing Arts with a virtual concert featuring mashups of funk, blues and good vibes. A live moderated conversation with members of the ensemble will follow the concert, which was recorded at a New York City studio in December and commissioned by Duke Performances. After the Center for the Performing Arts debut, the streamed concert will continue to be available for viewing until 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 10.

Feb. 3, at 6 p.m., virtual — The Stuckeman School in the College of Arts and Architecture is hosting Dayton Schroeter and Julian Arrington of SmithGroup, lead designers of the “Society’s Cage” installation in Washington, D.C., as part of its Virtual Lecture Series. Read the full story here.

Feb. 4-7, virtual — The 25th annual African American Music Festival at Penn State will take place Feb. 4–7 with a variety of concerts, lectures and presentations by School of Music ensembles and soloists, and several guest artists. All concerts will be presented virtually on the School of Music’s website. The full schedule, and more information, is available here.

Picture a Scientist

Picture a Scientist Week, jointly sponsored by the Eberly College of Science and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, will feature events focused on celebrating diversity and equity in the STEM fields in conjunction with Black History Month. Virtual events will begin on Feb. 6 and will continue through Feb. 16.

IMAGE: Penn State

Feb. 6 through 16 — Picture a Scientist Week, jointly sponsored by the Eberly College of Science and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, will feature events focused on celebrating diversity and equity in the STEM fields in conjunction with Black History Month. Read more about the full schedule of events in this story.

  • Feb. 6–11 — Picture a Scientist Film Screening
  • Feb. 10, at 12:30–1:30 p.m. — Picture a Scientist Film Q&A with Jane Willenbring
  • Feb.10, at 2:30–4 p.m. — Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture
  • Feb. 11, at 7–9 p.m. — Diversity in STEM Trivia Night
  • Feb. 16, at 7–9 p.m. EMS Women Faculty Panel Discussion

Feb. 11, at 7–8 p.m. — The Black Graduate Student Association at Penn State University Park is collaborating with Schlow Library in a virtual book discussion for Black History Month, "'The Parable of the Sower': An Octavia E. Butler Book Discussion." This facilitated book talk will examine themes in Butler’s novel of inclusion/exclusion, creation/destruction/rebirth and writing/books/scripture, as well as a larger homage to African American literary tradition. Facilitating the discussion will be Octavia E. Butler scholars Kristen Lillvis at Marshall University, and Kendra R. Parker at Georgia Southern University. Registration is required.

Feb. 11 through 25 — The Penn State Alumni Association is sponsoring this year’s Black History Month programming on WPSU. Those within WPSU’s broadcast coverage area can watch or listen on WPSU’s live stream at for television and for radio. The full list of programming is available here.

Feb. 12 and 14 — The Penn State University Libraries Center for Black Digital Research invites the campus community to Douglass Day 2021, our annual birthday party for Frederick Douglass. Please join us for a "transcribe-a-thon" with the papers of Mary Church Terrell, a foundational Black activist, educator, thinker and writer. The event, in partnership with the Library of Congress’s crowdsourcing initiative, By the People, will feature a livestreamed program with speakers. For more information and to register to participate, visit

Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., via Zoom (register) "Pioneers of Prevention: Black Women Activists Against Sexual Violence," hosted by the Gender Equity Center. Join us as we discuss the legacy of Black women activists who were at the forefront of movements against sexual violence and rape in America.  Navigating racism and sexism in their efforts to obtain justice for victim survivors and create a safer world, these female advocates and activists created a movement and continue to push the sexual violence prevention movement further today.

Feb. 17 through 24 — Jazz pianist Christian Sands has a song nominated for a Grammy Award and will be performing songs off his new release, "Be Water." The free recorded concert will be available from 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 through 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24. More information is available here.

Feb. 18, at 4 p.m. via Zoom Myron Floyd, dean of the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University, will present a talk and Q&A, “Nature Matters for Black Lives: Disrupting Narratives about Race and Place,” as part of the College of Health and Human Development's Dean's Lecture Series. Read more here.

Gender Equity Center image for event -- Being Black in Bridgerton
IMAGE: Penn State Gender Equity Center

Feb. 22, at 4:30 p.m., via Zoom (register) — "Being Black in Bridgerton: An Examination of Race, Colorism, and Stereotyping," hosted by the Gender Equity Center. The hit Netflix series "Bridgerton" has been praised for its casting of Black characters in the roles of English royals, nobles, aristocrats and tradespeople. However, when we examine the characters and their storylines, is such casting as progressive as it seems on the surface? Join us for clips of the series and a discussion of race, colorism and stereotyping, and the impact on the storylines of the people of color in the series.

Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m., online — Meeting the Moment with Michael Mwenso, featuring Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic. More information is available here.

Feb. 24, via Zoom — The College of Information Sciences and Technology is hosting the first event in its “Alumni Identity Talks” series. The event features three Black IST alumni discussing their educational and career journeys, and the opportunities and challenges they experienced as individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in tech. Complete details and registration are available at this link.

March 1, at 7 p.m., livestream (register) — "Confronting White Feminism: Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin of Unladylike," hosted by the Gender Equity Center. Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin from the Unladylike Media podcast will talk about the intersection of the feminist movement, #MeToo, and the Abolition Movement, with a discussion of how feminism and white womanhood have pushed up against racial equity historically through the present day.

March 15 deadline — A new essay contest sponsored by the Center for Democratic Deliberation in the College of the Liberal Arts will award more than $1,000 in prizes for essays that examine speeches, writings and other artifacts from the Civil Rights era. The contest is open to all undergraduate students at Penn State. Read this story for more information.

Spring and Summer 2021 — The Liberal Arts Collective at Penn State, a graduate student organization, is hosting a reading group this spring semester, with the first reading session dedicated to the topic of race in the U.S. We will be discussing texts and a film by Black authors about Black lives in the United States. More information is available here.


Feb. 4, at 4 p.m. — Zoom link (password: movie) — Black History Movie Night & Trivia — The Penn State Abington community is invited to watch a movie and play some trivia.


Feb. 3, at 7 p.m., virtual — Open mic with hip hop artist Propaganda. Propaganda is an American Christian hip hop and spoken-word artist and poet. He has released four albums as an independent artist and one collaborative album with the rapper Odd Thomas. Propaganda’s ideas stem from how cultures cross and inspire one another and they will stretch your mind and heart. Link via Connect, here.

Feb. 21-22 — The annual African American Read-in at Penn State Altoona will take place virtually. This year’s theme is "Black Literature Matters," with a special focus on poetry. If you’d like to share a reading during Sunday’s event, the Monday Marathon, or both, you can sign up for a live spot or submit a video. More information about all events is available here.

  • Feb. 21, at 2:30 p.m., online — Online community gathering featuring readings by Blair County residents and groups. Students, community members, groups, organizations, and families are invited to attend.
  • Feb. 22, at 4–7 p.m., online — the “Monday Marathon,” an interactive open mic event with special features, games, and a Penn State Altoona student showcase. Penn State students, faculty, and staff will offer readings and presentations. Anyone is welcome to attend all or parts of the event.
  • Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. — Cortney Lamar Charleston, the featured author of the 2021 African American Read-In at Penn State Altoona, will give a reading from his works of poetry and offer a question-and-answer session.

Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. — "Nobody Wants to Talk About It: Race, Identity and the Difficulties in Forging Meaningful Conversations," a virtual discussion with Michael Sidney Fosberg. After hundreds of presentations and in-depth dialogues, Fosberg has assembled a set of tools or takeaways useful in navigating uncomfortable conversations about race and identity. Fosberg will share these tools to provide a road map to more authentic and meaningful conversations in the workplace. A Q&A session will follow.


In honor of Black History Month, Penn State Berks will hold a series of free, virtual events. More information is available in this story.

Patrisse Cullors

Artist, activist, educator and public speaker Patrisse Cullors will speak at Penn State Berks on Feb. 16, 2021.

IMAGE: Provided
  • Feb. 1 — "Entrepreneurship 101," by Sydnie Marlella, Penn State alumna
  • Feb. 8 — "Minding the Responsibilities of Student Leadership," by Taion Walters, Penn State alumnus
  • Feb. 9 — Videotaped Interview with Julia Coney of Black Wine Professionals, by Pauline Milwood, assistant professor of hospitality management at Penn State Berks
  • Feb. 12 — "Scientific Breakthroughs by Black Scientists," by Berks students Chantel Bennett, Kelli Coates and Sheily Salas.
  • Feb. 15  — "Life after Berks: An Open Forum,"  by Dom Robinson, Penn State Berks alumnus
  • Feb. 16 — Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Zoom link
  • Feb. 19  — "Artists and Authors from Africa and the African Diaspora," by Thomas Lynn, associate professor of English and program coordinator of the associate degree in letters, arts and sciences; and Samantha Kavky, associate professor of art history.
  • Feb. 22  — "The Building Blocks to College Success," by Dennis Beale, CEO of Power of Perception LLC
  • Feb. 26 — Diversity Series Event: 'Being Black at Berks"


Feb. 15, at 12:15-1:15 p.m., at Parsons Hall or via Zoom “Black Excellence in Africa and the Diaspora." Presented by Sharon Pitterson-Ogaldez, coordinator of Diversity and International Programs and chair of Penn State Berks’ Diversity Committee, this event will highlight some of the contributions that Black people from across the world have made that may not be common knowledge, and some with which we might be more familiar. Refreshments will be served at in-person event and all social distancing and masking rules will be followed. Hosted by Student Affairs; contact for more information.

Feb. 19, at 7 p.m., via Zoom (meeting ID: 946 7914 4004, password: 129799)Film and discussion: "John Lewis: Good Trouble." A documentary about U.S. Representative John Lewis' life, legacy and more than 60 years of extraordinary activism. For more information email

Feb. 22, at 12:15-1:15 p.m., via Zoom (meeting ID: 962 2307 9241, password: 083886) — "150 Years of Political Activism: Black women and the long road to the historic election of Vice President Kamala Harris." In this presentation Julie Gallagher, associate professor of U.S. history and author of "Black Women and Politics in New York City," will share the efforts of some of Harris’s political foremothers and at the same time contribute to our understanding of Black women’s political thought and activism over the past century and a half. Please note this session will be recorded, and by attending, you acknowledge this. For more information email

Feb. 24, at 6 p.m., via Zoom (pre-registration required) — "Re-Member MOVE: A Black Tragedy in the City of Brotherly Love." Ulysses Slaughter of the Chester Housing Authority and Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and Pauline Thompson, professor of psychology, will explore historical injustices and the process of iterative reconciliation as it relates to the MOVE organization of Philadelphia. This event is open to the public. More information:

Feb. 25, at noon-1:15 p.m., via Zoom (register) — Join us for an exchange of ideas and experiences around race, ethnicity and systemic racism. Vippy Yee, the Rosenberg Director of the Penn State Brandywine Center for Ethics & Civic Engagement, will lead this discussion using a Living Room Conversation model developed by dialogue experts to facilitate connection between people despite their differences, and even identify areas of common ground and shared understanding. Hosted by the Center for Ethics and Civic Engagement; contact for more information.

Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. via Zoom (meeting ID: 997 8339 2623, password: 928255)Film and discussion: "Harriet" — This film tells the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman's escape from enslavement and her work with the Underground Railroad.


Feb. 1, at 3:30–4:30 p.m., Zoom — Dickinson Law Community Conversations to feature Professor of Law Tonya Evans, who will discuss her personal and professional "first/only" journey from the tennis courts to the court of law as well as the nontraditional path that prepared her for the joys of teaching, entrepreneurship and life-long learning. Evans joined the Dickinson Law faculty in July 2020 to continue and expand her work in blockchain and cryptocurrency, data, technology, entertainment law and social justice. She owns the Advantage Evans Academy and hosts the Tech Intersect Podcast, a weekly podcast that highlights new and notable experts at the intersections of law, business and technology. Open to the Dickinson Law community; for more information, contact Julie Cullings at

Feb. 17, at 1–4 p.m. — Wellness Wednesday at Dickinson Law. Join us as we celebrate Black History Month and our return to in-person instruction by supporting a local, Black-owned food truck business for Wellness Wednesday. Soul Burrito will have a variety of burritos available, including traditional chicken, sweet BBQ chicken, beef, vegan, jerk chicken, and more. All masking and social-distancing requirements must be followed.

Feb. 18, at 4:30–5:30 p.m. — Third Thursday sponsored by Black Law Students Association. The Dickinson Law community is invited to join Black Law Students Association for a virtual game show. Compete in live games such as trivia, a live lip synch challenge, and more. All participants must use headphones during the event and join from a laptop or desktop computer. Space is limited; RSVP here

Feb. 25, at 1–2 p.m., Zoom — Black History Month Keynote Speaker Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will deliver the keynote, titled “Make Black History Month All Year Long." The event, co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association and Academic and Student Services Office, is open to the Penn State community; registration is required here to receive the Zoom link. For more information, contact Julie Cullings at


Feb. 10, at 12:15 p.m. — Diversity Discussion — Students can join to learn about historical African American step-dancing traditions, and how they are currently practiced. Learn about the practice at this session, and watch/learn how to step-dance at our Step Afrika! performance and lesson on Feb. 11.

Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. — Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities; traditional African dances; and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience. A collection of video content, created in 2020, will provide viewers an opportunity to deepen their understanding of little-known moments in African-American history.

Feb. 16, at 12:15 p.m. — Black History Month Trivia — Test your knowledge of Black history for a chance to win prizes in this virtual, interactive trivia game.

Feb. 25, at 12:15 p.m. — Diversity Discussion — Students can join to engage in conversations and learn about Black history as an important part of teaching American history.  


Month of February — Black Inventors Exhibit (Campus Library)

Feb 1 through 12, online —WE ARE UNITED” T-shirt Fundraiser

Feb. 3, at 12:15–1:15 p.m., virtually via Zoom — In honor of Black History Month, join us for Women of Color: A Tribute to the Contributions of African-American Women. This virtual exhibit profiles dynamic women who have made significant contributions to society and includes original artifacts, signed documents, and photos of individuals who have impacted the history of Black women around the world. Open to students, employees, and the community.

Feb 10, at Noon, Zoom — Film Series + Q&A — “The Illusion of Power: The House We Live In”

Feb 17, at 7 p.m., Zoom — Film Series + Q&A — “Broken on All Sides: Race, Mass Incarceration & New Visions for Criminal Justice in the U.S.”

Feb 18, at 12:15 p.m. — Campus Chat: “What do BLM and Back the Blue have in common?”

Feb 20, at 4 p.m., Zoom — African American Cooking Class

Feb 26, at 5 p.m. — Screening of “Black Panther” and Raffle Giveaway (Swimmer Hall)


Submission deadline Feb. 9 — MLK Poster Design Contest. Harrisburg students are invited to submit a graphic design based on Martin Luther King Jr. or another notable Black social justice trailblazer. View the website for submission requirements. The winner receives recognition at the annual Student Awards ceremony and a $100 prize. 

Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. — Speaker Bryan Majors will present “Training for Triumph: How to Prepare Mentally, Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually for Your Life Long Goals." (Zoom Meeting ID: 991 1459 2833, Password: 532673)

Feb. 16-25, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 6–7:30 p.m. — Penn State Harrisburg’s Diversity and Educational Equity Committee will host, “Silenced Voices,” an episodic series about the lived experiences of the Penn State Harrisburg community on the issues of race, religion, gender, disability, and other issues. New episodes will premiere at 6 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in February beginning Feb. 16. Following each episode there will be a post-show talk-back with members of the cast and a subject matter expert related to each episode’s topic. Tickets available at this link.

Feb. 16, at 7 p.m., Zoom Meeting ID: 960 0314 2899 — Black History Month Bingo will include Black history facts, including influential people, events, movements and resources. Prizes included.   

Feb. 17, at 7 p.m., Zoom Meeting ID: 983 3742 9887 — "Epic Rap Battles of Black History" — Bert and Det will produce three skits/emcee battles highlighting differing views of famous historical African American men and women. Their viewpoints will be highlighted through rap battles encapsulating their competing ideals. This event will look backward to look forward to the destiny of future African American leaders.    

Feb. 14, at 4 p.m. (Zoom info to come) — Mikel Simpson, founder and executive director of Capital Rebirth, will give a presentation. Presented by Penn State Harrisburg MAEP  

Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Zoom Meeting ID: 983 3742 9887 — "BLACK to the Future" is a celebration of current African American luminaries and explores how they are pushing society forward.

Feb 24, 5 p.m. (Zoom info to come) — The Color Museum is a virtual scavenger hunt to help educate and orient students and campus community members about the robust contributions from notable Penn State people of color and other initiatives that support diversity, equity and inclusion.  

Feb. 25, at 11:30 a.m–12:30 p.m., Zoom link African Coffee Hour, hosted by our Global Ambassadors, will be featured for February’s coffee hour with an international flavor. Students from the region will share their country, traditions, foods, festivals, customs and fun facts with us. Students can enjoy a virtual tour of Africa through presentations and interactive activities. 

March 11, at 9 p.m., Zoom Meeting ID: 968 5589 1714 — "Paint with Student Life — African Woman" — This event will celebrate Woman's History Month as well as Black Woman's History Month — Join us and learn about historical and modern-day women who moved mountains for the women of tomorrow. Need supplies? Students can receive a free, complete paint kit by registering on Engage.


Feb 11, at 2-3 pm. — "Essence of Democracy: Dying To Dream," with artist Ify Chiejina, Penn State Lehigh Valley Chancellor Tina Richardson and Makayla Brown-Paul, president of the PSU-LV Black Student Union. Moderated by Ann Lalik, Art Gallery director. Essence of Democracy is a series of conversations with artists whose work gives voice to those often unheard. Free and open to the public. Register here.

Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. — Penn State Lehigh Valley will collaborate with Penn State Harrisburg to offer Bert and Det’s Epic Rap Battles of Black History. PSULV students should check their emails for the Zoom link.


Penn State Scranton is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of programs. Read this story for more information.

  • Feb. 5 Black History Month Kick Off
  • Feb. 12Amazon Prime Watch Party for the new movie, “One Night in Miami," directed by Academy Award-winning actress Regina King.
  • Feb. 18 "A Conversation About Black History"
  • Feb. 26 — Black History Month Recognition program


Penn State Wilkes-Barre is planning several events during February in celebration of African American History Month. All events will be held virtually and are open to all students, staff and faculty. Read more in this story.

  • Feb. 8, at noon — Ted Talk-N-Talk Shared Video and Discussion: Mena Fombo: "No. You Cannot Touch My Hair!"
  • Feb. 18, at noon — Ted Talk-N-Talk Shared Video and Discussion: Kendall Spencer: "What We Can Learn from College Athletes"
  • Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. — Live Zoom Event: Michael Fosberg: "Nobody Wants to Talk About It! Race, Identity, and the Difficulties in Forging Meaningful Conversations"
  • Feb. 25, at noon: — "Jeopardy: Know Your African American Inventors/Inventions."
Michael Fosberg

Michael Fosberg will present a live Zoom event, "Race, Identity, and the Difficulties in Forging Meaningful Conversations" on Feb. 22, 2021. All Penn State faculty, staff and students are welcome to attend.

IMAGE: Michael Fosberg


Last Updated April 15, 2021