Black History Month Takes Shape at TAMIU this February
The first Texas A&M International University celebration of Black
History Month was rather small.
It began in 2002 with two men, Dr. Ezra Engling, professor of Spanish
and Craig Jones, then manager of the University Village, organizing a
film festival at the Village showing Alex Haley's famous mini-series "Roots."
A few attended.
In 2003, a more diverse and structured series of 14 activities, including
the library exhibit and an expanded Black Film Series was organized. This
was much more successful, and Dr Engling's colleagues in the College of
Arts and Sciences presented him with a plaque, acknowledging his efforts.
But this year, after more faculty members and students who became aware
of such an attempt readily joined in to help, the national celebration
will be presenting a much larger presence on campus. (photo)
Engling announced that starting Feb. 2, members of the community are
welcome to join TAMIU for a month-long, free offering of film showings,
panel discussions, exhibits, presentations, lectures and mini concerts
that illustrate the countless contributions that blacks have made to the
United States and the world.
"Black History Month was not previously celebrated in Laredo because
in many cases, people didn't know it existed, or what it entailed,"
But with presentations such as the one Engling did last year on Bob
Marley and the artist's work as a reggae activist, people of all ages
are gaining interest in the background of one of the largest minority
groups in the country.
"There were even a DJ and people from neighboring cities and towns
who attended last year and were grateful for the insights they now had
into Marley's music," Engling said.
This year, organizers have scheduled about four to five activities that
will take place during every week of February. Featured offerings include
panel discussions on "The Dream Motif in African-American Life and
Literature," and "Black Professionals in Laredo," a lecture
on "Code switching among Blacks and Hispanics," and a musical
presentation titled," Jazz in Laredo."
All activities, free and open to the community, are designed to focus
on the sheer length and breadth of endeavors in which blacks have participated
in this country and the world, Engling said.
"If you look at history, blacks have excelled in every profession
and area including sports, engineering, science, literature and sociology,"
Engling explained, "In the past, we have not been credited with such
a level of intelligence. Black History Month gives us an opportunity not
just to know but also to celebrate the contribution blacks have made to
Also, while most of Laredo's population is Hispanic, Engling said many
Laredoans feel a strong camaraderie and connection with blacks, who together
with Hispanics, constitute the largest minority voting block in the country.
"As the largest minority groups in the country, blacks and Hispanics
have historically voted together on key issues," Engling explained,
"For example, when the issue of the English Only' rule in California
surfaced, blacks voted overwhelmingly against it. Also on issues such
as immigration where Hispanics are likely to suffer, blacks and Hispanics
have voted together."
The TAMIU Black History Month schedule of activities includes:
All Month: The Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library exhibit (Library Lobby)
and the College of Arts and Sciences poster display (Killam Fourth Floor
Art Corridor) celebrating the achievements of the peoples of Africa and
* Monday, February 2, 12 p.m., Opening Ceremony, featuring remarks by
Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Thomas Corti, followed by the
Panel: "The Dream Motif in African-American Life and Literature."
Students from ENGL 4338 (Minority Voices) will discuss the status of the
dream. (Western Hemispheric Trade Center, room 103).
* Tuesday, February 3, 7 p.m., Black Film Series: "OT: Our Town."
2003. Compton, CA high school teachers use drama to motivate inner city
students. (Student Center Auditorium).
* Wednesday, February 4, 12 p.m., Lecture: "African Civilization
in Art and Architecture." Dr. Richard Wright, assistant professor
of art history, will present a slide show on the history of African art
and architecture. (CPFA 121).
* Thursday, February 5, 12 p.m., Lecture: "Black Scientists."
Dr. Mario García-Rios will give a presentation on the African American
professionals at the National Institute of Health. (Western Hemispheric
Trade Center, 103).
* Friday, February 6, 12 p.m., Special Multimedia Presentation. "Bob
Marley: Reggae Activist." A PowerPoint slide show commemorating the
anniversary of Marley's birthday, featuring the music of the Jamaican
superstar. Designed by Dr. Ezra Engling, professor of Spanish, and Charles
Haruna, TAMIU senior in information technology. (Student Center Food Court).
* Monday, February 9, 12 p.m., Lecture: "African Institutions."
Dr. Peter Haruna, assistant professor of public administration and political
science, will speak on the social and political structures affecting life
on the Continent. (Western Hemispheric Trade Center, 103).
* Tuesday, February 10, 7 p.m., Black Film Series: "Four Little
Girls." 1997. The story of the infamous church-bombing incident in
Alabama during the turbulent 1960s. (Student Center Auditorium).
* Wednesday, February 11, 12 p.m., Documentary: "Nubia: The Forgotten
Kingdom." Dr. Mohammed Ben-Ruwin will present this film on the fall
of a great pre-Egyptian culture, and field questions. (Western Hemispheric
Trade Center, 103).
* Thursday, February 12, 12 p.m., Film/Discussion: "The Power of
Illusion." Dr. Judith Warner, associate professor of sociology, and
her students will lead show the film, and lead the discussion of this
film on race. (Western Hemispheric Trade Center, 103).
* Monday, February 16, 12 p.m., Panel: "Black Professionals in
Laredo." Featuring Mr. Gathon Robinson, the only black pilot in the
national Border Patrol; Alphe Wells, human resources recruiter at Mercy
Medical Center; TAMIU's Captain Ruben Irizarry-Guzmán, assistant
professor of military science, Leebrian Gaskins, associate director of
Computer and Telecommunication Services and Cassandra Wheeler, benefits
specialist, Office of Human Resources. (Western Hemispheric Trade Center,
* Tuesday, February 17, 7 p.m., Black Film Series: "Miss Evers
Boys." 1997. Alfre Woodard won a Golden Globe Best Actress Award
for her portrayal of the sympathetic nurse tending to the black men used
as guinea pigs in the government-sponsored syphilis experiment in Alabama.
(Student Center Auditorium).
* Wednesday, February 18, 12 p.m., Reading: "Black Voices."
Students from English class 4338 (Minority Voices) will read pieces from
Phyllis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Sonya Sánchez, Nicolás
Guillén, Ntozake Shanga, Sojourner Truth, Dennis Brutus, Derek
Walcott, Leopold Senghor, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn
Brooks and Okot p'Bitek. (Western Hemispheric Trade Center, 103).
* Thursday, February 19, 12 p.m., Lecture: "African American Incarceration."
Dr. Hamid Kusha, associate professor of criminal justice, will examine
the relationship between Blacks and the penal system. (Western Hemispheric
Trade Center, 103).
* Monday, February 23, 12 p.m., Lecture: "Blacks in Laredo."
Using the MA thesis of the late Jorge González as source, Dr. Stanley
Green, professor of history, will discuss the black presence in Laredo.
(Western Hemispheric Trade Center, 103).
* Tuesday, February 24, 7 p.m., Black Film Series: "A Raisin in
the Sun." 1961. Lorraine Hansberry's landmark drama about the dreams
of a family of the forces of racial prejudice blocking their path. (Student
* Wednesday, February 25, 12 p.m., Lecture: "Code switching among
Blacks and Hispanics." Dr. Roberto Heredia, associate professor of
psychology, will comment on the status and linguistic relevance of Ebonics
and Spanglish. (Western Hemispheric Trade Center, room 103).
* Thursday, February 26, 12 p.m., Musical Presentation: "Jazz in
Laredo." Drs. Michael Yoder, associate professor of geography and
Kevin Lindberg, assistant professor of English, and fellow band-member,
Laredo teacher Rick Cortez, will entertain. (Student Center Food Court).
For more information about Black History Month at TAMIU, please contact
Dr. Ezra Engling at 326.2648; visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam
Library, room 435B, or e-mail email@example.com.
More information is also available at www.tamiu.edu/newsinfo. University
office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests
and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information
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