City of Berkeley, UC Berkeley, BUSD to host Black History Month events

Infographic about Black history month events in Berkeley
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The city of Berkeley, UC Berkeley and Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, have several virtual events planned to celebrate Black History Month, allowing community members to educate themselves on Black history.

Despite the challenges COVID-19 has created for Black History Month programming, campus will host events such as speaker series, film screenings and conversations. Berkeley Unified School District will be teaching students about the Black Lives Matter movement this week.

UC Berkeley’s African American studies department is hosting a “Critical Conversations” speaker series that will celebrate the life of department founder and writer Barbara Christian and explore “abolition democracy.” The African American Student Development, or AASD, office will also moderate a conversation with Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke Thursday.

The Black Staff and Faculty Organization, or BSFO, will show the movie “Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America,” followed by a Q&A with Daryl Davis on Feb. 10, according to BSFO Chair Tyrone Wise II. BSFO will also host a panel discussion after screening the movie “Choc’late Soldiers from the USA” on Feb. 23. Both events are free and open to the public, Wise added.

“It’s not just for Black staff, it’s for the community at large,” Wise said. “There’s plenty of people who can be uplifted and educated by these programmings.”

Wise added that AASD director Takiyah Jackson has been “instrumental” in working with BSFO. Jackson said that rather than hosting several Black History Month events, this year AASD is co-sponsoring and promoting events hosted by other campus organizations.

Jackson added that while the virtual world is effective for sharing information, it’s difficult to build community and create the same type of engagement as when in person. She said in an email that after the exhausting year many Black people have had, AASD’s theme this month is rest and wellness instead of pushing community members to attend online programs.

“The obligation is to figure out what is best for you and your wellness,” Jackson said. “We’re not doing a bunch of programs, but that’s intentional based on student needs and the climate this year.”

The Cal Alumni Association will be hosting a Cal Women’s Basketball Virtual Hoops Party on Feb. 18, spotlighting a conversation with alumna Talia Caldwell and Coach Charmin Smith. The Goldman School of Public Policy is holding a speaker series with one event per week, presented by Black Students in Public Policy.

According to Jackson, Black History Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn about Black history and contributions.

“Typically we lean on Black people a lot to do all the educating for us, but this year there’s been so much content that’s come out on how to be anti-racist and how to educate yourself,” Jackson said. “It’s an opportunity, not just this month, but especially this month, for all the people who were super on board after the George Floyd murder to reignite that fire, because I’ve seen it dim a little.”

BUSD is celebrating Black Lives Matter during the first week of February by focusing teaching and activities on the movement in schools for students up to eighth grade.

In addition, each school will receive 10 new books that cultivate Black joy and celebrate Black history and contributions, according to BUSD spokesperson Trish McDermott.

“Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the full experience of Black students, families, staff, and community members while also contributing to the ongoing need for healing,” McDermott said in an email.

Berkeley City Council will vote Feb. 9 to authorize flying the Black Lives Matter flag at the Civic Center during the month.

If approved, the flag will be raised with a ceremony Feb. 10, according to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín.

“The flying of the Black Lives Matter Flag is a symbolic extension of the substantive efforts we have undertaken in publicly affirming the City’s commitment to address institutionalized racism, advance justice and foster equality,” Arreguín said in an email.

Contact Maya Akkaraju at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.