February 4, 2014

SUNY Empire State College Honors Black History Month with Events Statewide

SUNY Empire State College Honors Black History Month with Events Statewide(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Feb. 4, 2013) SUNY Empire State College will observe Black History Month at locations across the state and online. The college’s Hudson Valley, Long Island, Metropolitan New York and Niagara Frontier centers and the Center for Distance Learning will host, sponsor and support events throughout the month.

“From Buffalo to Long Island, and points in between, our participation in celebrating Black History Month is a great example of what makes us distinctive and how we engage with the community to learn more about important events and issues,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “Our Black History Month celebrations reflect how, throughout the state, the college’s faculty and staff involve students in the visual and performing arts, lectures and awards and much more, all as part of a broad liberal arts experience.”

The nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, Empire State College educates its 20,000 students face to face, online and through a blend of both at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels at 35 locations across the state, with nine international partners and online everywhere.

About Empire State College and Black History Month

Below are brief descriptions of each event, including time, date and location.

“Honoring and Discovering Our Cultures”

“Honoring and Discovering Our Cultures” is designed to heighten awareness of the cultural and artistic contributions of African-Americans through food, literature, a display of original art and a panel discussion about the African diaspora.

The event will be streamed live over the Internet via ESC-TV at www.esc.edu/esc-tv.

Sponsored by the college’s Center for Distance learning, the event takes place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.,Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 113 West Ave. Saratoga Springs, NY.

“The Mountain Top”

Katori Hall’s award-winning play, “The Mountaintop,” is a portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. the night before his assassination in 1968. The play comes to Buffalo from its Broadway premiere that starred Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

The college’s Niagara Frontier Center is supporting a performance of the play at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Subversive Theater. The performance runs through March 1.

Third Annual Metropolitan New York Center Black History Month Celebration and Collegewide Award Ceremony

The Black History Month celebration and collegewide awards ceremony, the college’s annual signature Black History Month event, features a special introduction by alumna Melba Tolliver ’98, the first African-American to anchor a network news program.

This year the college recognizes Deborah Gregory ’86, author of “The Cheetah Girls” book series, with the Distinguished Alumni Award, and Robert Johnson ’96, noted philanthropist, businessman and community activist, with its Citizen Laureate Award.

Sponsored by the college’s Metropolitan New York Center, the event takes place at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Dubinsky Center, eighth floor, SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology, 7th Ave. and 27th Street, Manhattan.

Gregory ’86 also is an alumna of FIT.

“Honoring Black History Month, a Conversation in the Arts”

“Honoring Black History Month, a Conversation in the Arts,” features artists Ernani Silva and Oluwatoyin Tella. The conversation deals with themes, “Plantation Chic,” selected by Tella, and “The Good the Bad and the Beautiful Brazil,” selected by Silva.

Silva’s semi-abstract paintings continue to evoke the cultural content of his native Brazil, as well as his African and Indian heritage. He continues to produce work in series and is particularly known for his “Carnival” and “Women Against The Wind” series. He is both a storyteller documenting elements of his culture and folklore, as well as an activist fighting for the preservation of a disappearing people.

Born in Oyo, Nigeria, to a Jamaican mother and Yoruba father, painter Tella uses her creative energy as a vehicle toward a renaissance of aboriginal substance. She earned both her Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Howard University.

Sponsored by the college’s Long Island Center, the event takes place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the African American Museum and Center for Education and Applied Arts of Nassau County, 110 North Franklin Street, Hempstead, NY.

Ambassadors for Community Engagement Lecture Series

The Ambassadors for Community Engagement lecture series begins with Black History Month as the topic. This first of the ACE lecture series will feature keynote speaker Joe Washington, a Metropolitan New York Center faculty mentor emeritus and jazz historian. Breakout sessions will be facilitated after Washington’s remarks.

Beginning at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 19, the event sponsored by the college’s Hudson Valley Center takes place at 200 North Central Ave., Hartsdale, NY.

Meet the Authors: “African American Women’s Life Issues Today: Vital Health and Social Matters”

“African American Women’s Life Issues Today: Vital Health and Social Matters,” (Praeger 2013), is the latest in a series of books about African-American women’s health or social issues written or edited by Catherine Collins, a professor and faculty mentor with the college’s Niagara Frontier Center.

Written by an all-female, all-African-American team of health experts that includes nurse practitioners, registered nurses, educators and psychologists, the book focuses on the diseases and related social issues that cause the greatest harm and pose the greatest threat to African-American women today.

In addition to Collins, contributors Lorraine Peeler ’88, a faculty mentor with the Niagara Frontier Center, and Mattie Rhodes, a registered nurse and member of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing faculty, will discuss the contents of the book, which will be followed by a tour of the newly refurbished Buffalo Center for the Arts and Technology.

The event takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, Buffalo Center for the Arts and Technology, 1221 Main Street, Buffalo.

University of Buffalo's 38th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Keynote Speaker Event

Niagara Frontier Center Dean Nan DiBello, a political scientist, has invited the center community to join her in participating in this event. Mary Frances Berry, Ph.D., author, educator and historian, and Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights activist and former chairperson of the NAACP, keynote this year’s event. 

Berry served as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during President Jimmy Carter’s administration and in 1993 was designated as chairwoman of the Civil Rights Commission by President Bill Clinton.

Evers-Williams' husband, Medgar Evers, was murdered during the struggle for civil rights on June 12, 1963. From that moment on, Evers-Williams has devoted her life to advancing civil rights and combating racial discrimination.

The event takes place at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, Center for the Arts, UB North Campus, Amherst, NY.

“The Legacy and the Dream: Art Exhibition”

“The Legacy and the Dream: Art Exhibition,” celebrates the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. The exhibit will feature works by Edwin DeLoatch ‘13, whose poetry was featured in the fall 2013 edition of the Metropolitan Review; Wade De Loe; Clau van Holt; Paulette Jemmott; student Marvenia Knight, whose art work was selected for display in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Washington D.C. office; JahLib (Jehovah's Liberation); and James Napoleon '97.

Sponsored by the college’s Metropolitan New York Center, the reception takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the center’s Livingston Gallery, 177 Livingston St., 6th Floor, Brooklyn.

About Black History Month/National African American History Month

President Gerald R. Ford first issued a Message on the Observance of Black History Month on Feb. 10, 1976, expanding what also is known as National African American History Month.

National African American History Month celebrates the contributions that African-Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens understanding of the nation's history.

National African American History Month had its origins in 1915 when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is known now as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Through this organization, Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. Woodson selected the week in February that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African-Americans.

More information is available by visiting the Library of Congress Black History Month website at http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in the state of New York and online. Its 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more. More information about the college is available here.


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918


518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)