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Holyoke Community College, Black History Month

February 2

Holyoke Community College is celebrating Black History Month this Feb. with a series of weekly online events that includes conversations about the 400-year span of African-American history, voting rights, and health issues such as COVID-19 and their disproportionate impact on communities of color.

All events will be held virtually and advanced registration is required.

Feb. 2, 2021
7 – 8:30 p.m.
Historically Speaking: Four Hundred Souls – A Conversation With Ibram Kendi & Keisha N. Blain

Renowned scholars Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire, have assembled 90 extraordinary writers to document the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present. Entitled Four Hundred Souls, each contributor writes about a five-year period of 400 years of American history using essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons, the untold stories of ordinary people, as well as landmarks, laws, and artifacts. An extraordinary, moderated discussion featuring editors Kendi and Blain will focus on historic eras such as Slavery, Reconstruction, and Segregation, and their sustained impact on the United States.

Contributors Herb Boyd, City University of New York, Kali Nicole, Gross, Emory University, Peniel Joseph, University of Texas, and Annette Gordon Reed, Harvard University will join Prof. Kendi and Prof. Blain in a discussion about the impact of the African American community on social justice trajectory of American History. Mary N. Elliot, NMAAHC curator will moderate.


Feb. 10, 2021
11 a.m.
The Legacy of Poor Health: Communities of Color From 1619 to COVID

HCC anthropology professor Vanessa Martinez, Ph.D., will share important data regarding the legacy of American racism and how it amplifies the challenges of living during COVID-19, especially for communities of color. By using a historical anti-racist perspective and health equity lens, she will share some concrete ways we can improve the lives of our most vulnerable communities.


Feb. 17, 2021
11 a.m.
Watch & Discuss: Fannie Lou Hamer: Voting Rights Activist

Voting rights activist and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, born in 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, was the granddaughter of a slave and the youngest of 20 children. Raised by hardworking parents who were sharecroppers, she was no stranger to poverty or hardship. An inspirational speaker and writer, she used her powerful voice to raise the cause of equality and freedom for all blacks in America and became a defining force in the fight against social injustice during the early years of the civil rights movement.

In this rare documentary, her struggles and triumphs are expressed through Hamer’s own words as well as those of friends and colleagues. While attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Fannie Lou Hamer posed the defining question: “Is this America? The land of the free and the home of the brave? Where we have to sleep with our telephone off the hook, because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live in peace as human beings in America?” She will be remembered for winning the right to vote for Black Americans and exposing America’s poverty by giving a voice to those in need. This program is an inspiration to anyone who has ever faced oppression and acts as a powerful reminder of what one individual is capable of achieving in the face of adversity.

HCC history professor Maura Henry, Ph.D., will lead a discussion following the viewing.

Check back soon for registration information.

Feb. 23, 2021
1 p.m.
Community Read Discussion Led by Gaylord Saulsberry

All members of the HCC community are invited to read the book One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson as part of a campus community read. Copies of the book are available for free as an ebook through the HCC Library. HCC history professor Gaylord Saulsberry, Ed.D., will be leading a community discussion on the history of voting rights and Carol Anderson’s book.



Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave
Holyoke, MA 01040
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(413) 538-7000
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