By Mary Rodack
Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich believes Youngstown State University has not “done a very good job meeting the cultural diversity needs” for the students and for Black History Month.
“There was no one to do Black History Month,” Jackson Leftwich said.
Jackson Leftwich, acting chair for the politics and international relations department, took the lead in organizing the committee to plan Black History Month since the position for associate vice president of multicultural affairs has remained vacant since the summer of 2018.
YSU’s campus will host a variety of events ranging from art exhibitions to movie nights for Black History Month through February thanks to a committee of faculty and staff.
The committee is composed of faculty, staff, students and community members. Planning for Black History Month began in the fall of 2018 according to Ani Solomon, assistant director for diversity programs.
Solomon said the committee spoke to students to get an idea of what they were interested in.
“We as a university enjoy celebrating different identities and culture,” Solomon said.
The Butler Museum of Art houses an art exhibition from artist Winfred Rembert, and Bliss Hall’s Judith Rae Solomon Gallery showcases Justin Coleman’s art in honor of Black History Month. Rembert’s art remains up in the museum until Feb. 17 and Coleman’s stays until Feb. 28.
Solomon said she is most excited for the Step Afrika! dance performance on Feb. 12. According to the information provided by Housing and Residence Life, Step Afrika! was created in 1994 to promote the tradition of “stepping,” a percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument. The event will be in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center at 6 p.m.
Solomon also said the student diversity council will host a movie and trivia night on Feb. 25. The council will show the movie “The Hate U Give,” based on the Angie Thomas best-selling young adult book, and provide free food and prizes for the trivia portion of the event. It will be held in the Ohio Room of Kilcawley Center from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Jackson Leftwich said the committee that planned the events consists of faculty and staff from all over campus.
“It’s not comprised of just African Americans. I have some really good colleagues, black and white, and they stepped up,” Jackson Leftwich said. “There are other people on this campus who care just as much.”
The committee planned a movie night presentation around the movie “Green Book” on Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m in Cafaro House. According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Green Book” follows the journey of a white man chauffeuring a black pianist through the south and how they rely on a book to find black-friendly businesses.
A presentation on the book and movie, “I Am Not Your Negro,” based on based on playwright and activist James Baldwin’’s unfinished manuscript, ends the events for Black History Month. The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County hosts the event on Feb. 23 at 12:30 p.m. YSU’s Black Alumni Chapter sponsored the event, Housing and Residence Life said.
Jackson Leftwich said she took on the responsibility for planning Black History Month so students can see the what people are doing for the community and to embrace diversity and inclusion.
“It’s important to ‘remember the dream by any means necessary’ because if we don’t celebrate our history it can get lost,” Jackson Leftwich said.
To get the schedule of events for Black History Month contact the Housing and Residence Life at 330-941-3547.