Middle Tennessee State University will shine the spotlight on “African Americans in the Arts” for the 2024 Black History Month observance throughout February, with activities focused on film, fashion, stage and music.
“The Black History Month Committee is very excited about this year’s theme as well as the slate of events scheduled throughout the month involving our students, faculty and staff,” said Danielle Rochelle, director of MTSU Intercultural and Diversity Affairs who coordinates the monthlong celebration. “We encourage the campus community to support this annual MTSU tradition to uplift the community.”
Activities for MTSU’s Black History Month celebration will kick off from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, with dessert and meet-and-greet in the Intercultural and Diversity Affairs Center, located in Room 320 of Student Union Building, 1768 MTSU Blvd.
“Where There Is Unity, There Is Strength” is the theme of this year’s Unity Luncheon, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Student Union Ballroom. MTSU alumnus and former adjunct instructor Cary E. Holman, director of the Franklin County School District, will serve as keynote speaker for this event that will also honor six unsung community heroes.
The luncheon features a catered meal and entertainment in addition to the speaker and awards presentation. Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for students, and $280 for a table of eight. Purchase online through Jan. 31 by visiting mtsu.edu/aahm and clicking on the “Unity Celebration” tab.
Other events include the “Color the Runway Fashion Show,” set for 6-10 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Student Union Ballroom, with styling produced and presented by MTSU students.
“Showtime at the Apollo,” a talent showcase featuring over a dozen student acts, will be held from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Keathley University Center Theater. A student favorite since its debut a few years ago, the event pays homage to the popular show filmed at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, that provides a stage for aspiring amateur artists to test their talents before a raucous crowd.
“‘Showtime at the Apollo’ is a variety show,” Rochelle said. “It’s very high energy and students really enjoy it. The university has such a wealth of amazingly talented students and ‘Apollo’ usually provides a few surprises from those brave enough to step up on that stage.”
As always, a highlight will be this year’s Black History Month keynotespeaker program set for 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building, 516 Alma Mater Drive on campus. Details are being finalized for this year’s keynote speaker and will be released at a later date.
The monthlong celebration will conclude with “Glory! A Choral Concert for Black History Month,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29. The SOAL and TEBA chorales, Schola Cantorum and MTSU Singers from the MTSU School of Music will perform a free concert in Hinton Hall in Wright Music Building, 1439 Faulkinberry Drive.
Under the direction of Raphael Bundage and Angela Tipps, the program will feature selections by Black composers, including the award-winning song, “Glory!” written by John Legend, Common and Rhymefest for the movie “Selma.”
In the fall of 2020, the MTSU Men’s Chorale recorded an arrangement of “Glory” featuring renowned university alumni Devin Bowles, now starring in the touring musical production of “MJ, the Musical” and renowned performer Caleb Mitchell.
Other than Unity Luncheon, all Black History Month events are free and open to the public. Visit mtsu.edu/aahm/index.php to learn more about Black History Month at MTSU.
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)