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#BlackLivesMatter founders coming to Emerson

Two of the original forces behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement will headline “Solidarity,” this year’s Black History Month celebration at Emerson College.

Opal Tometi, social activist and co-creator of the viral hashtag, and Janaya Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, will speak in the Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center on Wednesday, February 10, 7:00 pm.

Black History Month is organized by Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interests (EBONI) and sponsored by a number of campus organizations.

“This is the time to bring awareness and to learn, so come on out and be part of the conversation,” said Tikesha Morgan, director of multicultural student affairs and GLBTQ resources and advisor to Black History Month. 

Morgan said she got word last summer that the booking agency she uses to bring speakers to campus was representing the Black Lives Matter founders. Emerson is usually one of the first places the agency calls for those types of speakers, Morgan said.

EBONI co-president Taylor Jett ’16 said this year’s theme of “Solidarity” recognizes the intersectionality and differences that exist in the black community, both at Emerson and in the wider world, but understands that the community needs to come together.

“We all need to sort of stand up for each other as a whole,” she said.

Jett said she hopes the keynote speakers talk about the importance of “doing more than just social media activism,” but she’s also interested in how they were able to grow such a huge and effective campaign.

“It grew exponentially, and I think that’s amazing,” Jett said.

The first event of the month is a panel of Emerson staff and faculty, who will speak on the meaning and importance of “Black Solidarity.” That will happen on Wednesday, February 3, 6:00 pm, in the Multipurpose Room in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center.

Panelists include Morgan; Sylvia Spears, vice president for diversity and inclusion; Kimberly McLarin, associate professor, Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing; and Jabari Asim, associate professor and graduate program director for creative writing, Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing.

“I think that is really important, because that is actually coming from the community,” Morgan said.

An Afro Yoga Workshop led by Amissa Miller, an assistant professor in the Performing Arts Department, will teach participants methods of taking care of themselves in the face of racism on Thursday, February 4, 6:00 pm, in the Little Building’s Cabaret, and will be followed by a discussion.

The Black Light Art Show will feature the work of black artists on Thursday, February 18, 8:00 pm, in the Cabaret.

As with last year, the programming will close with BLACKOUT, a fashion show featuring clothing designed by Emerson parent Adele Ngoy, who is from Africa and designs all of the fashions specifically for the show. Students model Ngoy’s creations.

Jett, who will model one of Ngoy’s fashions in the show, said BLACKOUT is a good reminder to people that solidarity means embracing different aspects of black culture.

“I think sometimes people forget that black doesn’t always mean African American,” she said.

BLACKOUT will be held on Friday, February 26, 8:00 pm, in the Cabaret.

For more information on any of the Black History Month events, email msa_glbtq@emerson.edu.