A lecture by Henry Louis Gates Jr. — the renowned Harvard professor who has traced the ancestry of Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington and other celebrities — is but one of many Northwestern University events marking Black History Month. A controversial play exploring race and identity, an address by former Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Venty and a festival of African culture also are planned.

The following are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted:


Harambee Celebration 2011, 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, in the Louis Room of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive. “Harambee” — which means “come together” in Swahili — is an annual event that launches the University’s Black History Month celebration. It will feature traditional soul, Cajun/Creole, Caribbean and Ethiopian food and performances. Entertainment will be provided by student choral and dance groups including the Northwestern Community Ensemble, singing anthems, spirituals, hymn arrangements and gospel, praise and worship songs; Soul4Real, an a cappella group that sings gospel, Motown and contemporary songs; and Movement, a student group that showcases African, Caribbean, Afro-Caribbean and African-American dancing and stepping styles. Special guests will be the Najwa Dance Corps, which will perform traditional West African celebration dances. Sponsored by African American Student Affairs and For Members Only, the event is funded by the Student Activities Funding Committee.

“Spinning Into Butter,” by Rebecca Gilman, directed by Derrick Sanders, 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28; 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30; 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. “Spinning Into Butter” explores race, racism and political correctness. Directed by Derrick Sanders, artistic director, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), this thought-provoking play by award-winning School of Communication faculty member Rebecca Gilman asks if values are absolute or subject to circumstance. Single-tickets are $20 for the general public; $18 for seniors 65 and older, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 for full-time students with IDs and Northwestern alumni who graduated within the past two years. Single-tickets may be purchased through the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or online at www.tic.northwestern.edu.

“Tech Noire: The Art of Stephen Flemister and Krista Franklin” exhibition, Feb. 10 through March 16, Dittmar Memorial Gallery, first floor, Norris University Center. Drawing inspiration from the book “Black Looks: Race and Representation” by bell hooks, “Tech Noire” explores the portrait as social portrayal. In 20 mixed medium collages, paintings and sketches, Chicago-based artists Krista Franklin and Stephen Flemister examine “Black Looks” from a broad range of perspectives. For more information on Flemister, visit http://stephenflemister.com. For more on Franklin, visit http://www.kristafranklin.com. An opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, is free and open to the public.

Leon Forrest Lecture by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “Exploring Our Roots: Genealogy, Genetics and African American History,” 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Ryan Family Auditorium at the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road. An ardent champion of African American Studies, Henry Gates Jr. will discuss the importance of understanding how your sense of self and your self-esteem are shaped through family history. In “Faces of America,” which aired on PBS last year, Gates explored the ancestry of Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep, Dr. Mehmet Oz and others. While the event is free and open to the public, seating is limited. Call (847) 491-5122 or visit http://planitpurple.northwestern.edu/event/403343 for more information.

African American Theatre Ensemble and Out Da Box presents “ODB: The Mixtape,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17; 8 and 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18; and 8 and 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, Shanley Hall, 2031 Sheridan Road. The annual comedy show features sketches and improvisations that challenge cultural stereotypes, societal norms and current events. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the Norris Center Box Office and at the door prior to each performance.

National Association of Black Journalists, Medill Crain Lecture Series, 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive. Angela Burt-Murray, former editor of Essence, will speak and take questions. The premiere lifestyle, fashion and beauty magazine for African-American women has a monthly readership of 8.5 million.

For information on other Evanston campus Black History Month events visit the African American Student Affairs (AASA) website at


All of the following Chicago campus events are sponsored by the Black Law Students Association:

“African Immigration,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room 150, 375 E. Chicago Ave. Guest speaker Alie Kabba will discuss pressing social and legal issues within Chicago’s African immigrant community. A native of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Kabba is executive director of the United African Organization, a Chicago-based coalition of African national associations dedicated to social justice, civic participation and the empowerment of African immigrants and refugees in Illinois. He also is board president of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). Lunch will be provided.

“Haiti: One Year After the Earthquake,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room 150, Arthur Rubloff Building. Panelists who have recently conducted research in Haiti will describe the social landscape of two poor neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince — Bel Air and Cite Soleil — a year after the earthquake. They will talk about Haiti’s political system, housing and property law. Lunch will be provided.

Soul Food Lunch, noon, Wednesday, Feb. 2, Northwestern School of Law Atrium, 375 E. Chicago Ave. The $5 per plate soul food menu will feature yams, greens, chicken, macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler and cornbread muffins. Proceeds will go to Urban Prep Academies.

“Charter Schools, Small Schools,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room 150. As Mayor Richard M. Daley’s tenure ends, panelists reflect on his major contribution to public education in Chicago: charter schools and small schools. Founders of two charter schools and a former small school principal will describe their institutions and their benefits. A former charter schoolteacher and current PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago will critique the charter school movement. Lunch will be provided.

“Coffee with Kwame,” 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room, 150. Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul of the 13th Legislative District will talk about current Illinois legislation, particularly the abolition of the death penalty and amendments to the Illinois Voting Rights Act. Cookies and coffee will be provided.

“Sexuality and Race,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room 150. Panelists will address black LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) political visibility and legal representation, as well as the overlap between black and queer social issues, including the effects of HIV/AIDS in both communities. Representatives from Lamda Legal, the AIDS Foundation, Howard Brown Health Center, and Affinity Community Services will offer perspectives from their work. Lunch will be provided.

“Black Voters and Black Politics in Today’s Chicago,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room 150. Black elected officials representing Chicagoans in state and local government will discuss the role of race relations in elections and the importance of the black vote. Lunch will be provided.

“Green Rehabilitation,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room 150. Panelists will explore how sustainable work — including gardening and ecological restoration — helps rehabilitate incarcerated men and women as well as ex-offenders in the Chicago area. Participants and program managers from Greenscorps-Chicago, Greencorps-Calumet, and the garden at Cook County Jail will share their experiences. Lunch will be provided.

Keynote Address by Adrian Fenty, former Mayor of Washington, D.C., 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, Lincoln Hall, Levy Meyer Hall, 357 East Chicago Ave. Former Mayor of Washington, D.C. Adrian Fenty will describe his involvement in municipal educational reform and analyze the crisis of education in the United States.

For more information on Chicago campus Black History Month Events, visit the Northwestern University School of Law’s master calendar at: http://essex.law.northwestern.edu/MasterCalendar/MasterCalendar.aspx.

(Source contacts: EVANSTON CAMPUS Shadra D. Smith, director of African American Student Affairs, at (847) 491-3610 or shadra-smith@northwestern.edu. CHICAGO CAMPUS –
Audra Wilson, director of Diversity Education and Outreach, Northwestern University School of Law, at (312) 503-4557 or audra-wilson@law.northwestern.edu)