Black History Celebration

Civil Rights Acts: Now and Then

Civil Rights Acts: Now and Then

Oberlin College’s 2014 Black History Celebration draws attention to the anniversary of two seminal events in the history of Africana peoples. In 1964 the United States Congress, responding to the organic struggle for change taking place in the streets of the nation, enacted a civil rights law that gave the federal government far-reaching powers in its enforcement of equal rights and access to public accommodations for all American citizens. Considered one of the greatest pieces of legislation in the history of the nation, for the past 50 years, the 1964 Civil Rights Act has served as a foundational document for modern America and has transformed the social, cultural, and moral character of the United States.

In 1994, the majority population of South Africa ended its long nightmare as the nation’s first free and open elections ended the racist and brutal Apartheid regime. Led by the once banned African National Congress and the iconic leadership of activist turned political prisoner turned president, Nelson Mandela, 20 years ago, South Africa began its journey to achieve true freedom, justice and prosperity in the "Rainbow Nation.”

Black History Month programs take place from February 2 to March 3 at select venues throughout the Oberlin College campus and community.

Among the highlights:

Convocation: James M. Lawson Jr. ’57
James M. Lawson Jr. will speak on "The Influence of Plantation Capitalism on Today's Human Rights." The retired Methodist pastor is a lifelong social and civil rights activist, who was a close associate of Martin Luther King Jr. and a leading architect of the Civil Rights Movement. He also trained many of the Freedom Riders in the principles of nonviolence.

A Conversation: The 1964 Civil Rights Acts: Now and Then
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Oberlin Associate Professor of Africana studies Pam Brooks will moderate a discussion among historians Françoise Hamlin of Brown University, Hasan Jeffries of Ohio State University, Charles McKinney of Rhodes College, and Renee Romano of Oberlin College. Panelists will discuss the historical importance of the Civil Rights Act and the contemporary implications of the act in an age of changing election and voting expectations.

Whys Black Magicians: Amiri Baraka in Word and Image
A commemoration of the writings of poet, essayist, novelist, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka, who recently died at age 80. Included in the program is a screening of the 1967 cinema adaptation of Baraka's award-winning play The Dutchman, starring Al Freeman Jr. and Shirley Knight.

An Afternoon with Director Ryan Coogler
Program features a screening and discussion of the film Fruitvale Station in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Apollo Theatre. Coogler, the director of the highly acclaimed film, will discuss his work in conjunction with a free screening of the movie at the Apollo.

Other Black History Month programs include plays, lectures, art and photography exhibits, short films, and community discussions.

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Black History Month 2014 Poster of Events