Central Penn celebrates Black History Month

Posters, a movie, readings, discussions

and a luncheon featured through February

Smiling young man with curly dark hair and wire glasses, wearing a black and gray striped scarf.

By Noah Lopez

Knightly News Reporter



Man with beard and glasses

Michael Lear-Olimpi

Knightly News Co-Adviser and Editor


Central Penn’s Black History Month calendar has featured remembrances and celebrations of Black Americans’ personal and collective triumphs over discrimination, and of their cultural, scientific and other contributions to the nation and to the world.

One of the posters being displayed on video screens around campus.
Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi

According to the Library of Congress, Black History Month owes its origin to historian, author and journalist Carter Godwin Woodson, who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, in 1915.

That organization is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History External (ASALH), which in 1926 launched Negro History Week, the library says. ASALH changed the observance from by-then Black History Week to Black History Month in 1976.

This year, the college’s Black Student Union has promoted information about Black Americans through signs on campus, postings on the Central Penn app and displays on video screens in college buildings, and in other ways.

“You want to try to do events that are going to not only be entertaining and fun but are also going to kind of educate, and as long as you’re willing to do that and places are willing to do that, it makes it for a more cohesive thing,” Elijah Tinson, Central Penn success coach, director of the Pathways to Academic and Career Success Together and First-Year Experience programs, and BSU adviser, said.

Smiling, bearded man in gray sweatshirt at a work desk with hutch.
Elijah Tinson, among whose many roles at Central Penn is advising the Black Student Union, at his desk. Tinson designed the Black History Month graphics and narratives posted on the Central Penn app this month. Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi

One of those events occurred on Sunday, when students visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C.

Another event occurred last night at 6, in the Capital BlueCross Theatre, on campus, when the BSU showed the movie “Selma,” about the protest-for-civil-rights march Martin Luther King Jr. led from that Alabama city to the state capital, Montgomery, in March of 1965.

U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, in a yellow outfit and red hat, reading at President Joe Biden's inauguration in January 2021.
One of the Black History Month signs displayed on campus.
Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi

Although not exclusively in February, the college’s Anti-Racism Advisory Council (ARAC), part of President Linda Fedrizzi-Williams’ Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, and that works to make people aware of racism and how to counter it, has been hosting a campus-wide common read.

The book for that common read, “The Other Wes Moore,” which ARAC distributed to Central Penn employees in December and to students this month, is the center of discussions this term and next. ARAC also put up posters with QR codes that connect people to anti-racism books, podcasts and other resources.

On March 6, Harrisburg civic activist, pastor and poet Nathaniel Gadsden will facilitate discussion of the book during the BSU meeting, beginning at 4 p.m., in ATEC 202.

The main event of Central Penn’s Black History month observances will be a luncheon today, from noon to 1:30 p.m., in the conference center. Chad Lassiter, executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, will be the luncheon’s keynote speaker.

Six awards, each named for key people in African American history, will be presented to students.

For information about BSU, email Tinson at ElijahTinson@centralpenn.edu.

For information about ARAC, email Michael Lear-Olimpi, assistant professor of communications, at michaellear-olimpi@centralpenn.edu or Amanda Stuckey, assistant professor of humanities, at amandastuckey@centralpenn.edu.

Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.