By Kenya Godette

Old Dominion University students, staff and faculty will celebrate Black History Month (BHM) throughout the month of February. Beginning Feb. 1, the campus community will honor and recognize the achievements, contributions and historical impact of the African-American community through events, programs and classroom learning opportunities.

This year, the BHM observation has been led by Craig Rollins, graduate assistant for Black Initiatives, alongside a dedicated team of students in the ODU Office of Intercultural Relations (OIR). 

OIR’s mission to foster intercultural learning and engagement has informed its approach to planning the University’s celebration of Black History Month.

"We are being really intentional this year with not just celebrating Black History Month but in how we are celebrating it,” Rollins said. “We want students to learn about Black history in fun and unique ways in places where they already are."

He stressed the importance of making events fun, relevant and accessible, with multiple events being offered during student Activity Hours.

Organizers also placed a heavy emphasis on education.

The OIR is encouraging ODU faculty to integrate black history initiatives into their curricula throughout the month of February. Rachawan Wongtrirat, director of intercultural relations, said, "We recognize that learning and awareness begin in the classroom. This year, we are launching the OIR's inaugural Black History Month classroom campaign, inviting faculty to creatively consider integrating Black History Month into class discussions and their curricula. One innovative example could be exploring or discussing the contributions of historical and contemporary African American chemists in a chemistry class. Faculty can also invite the OIR team for a brief presentation on Black History Month.”

Black T-Shirt with Illustration of Woman
ODU's 2024 Black History Month T-Shirt, designed by the Office of Intercultural Relation's graphic designer, Hind Al Saffar.

Wongtrirat encourages faculty to reach out for ideas and guidance on how they can get involved.  "We hope to continue this for all other heritage months, too and it's exciting to be able to get started now," she said.

Faculty should submit an interest form by Feb. 15 and will receive an ODU BHM T-shirt. 

Here is a full list of ODU’s 2024 Black History Month events:

  • Feb.1: The Dawn is Ours: Amanda Gorman Textiles from South Africa | 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., The Barry Art Museum
  • Feb. 1: BHM Activity Hour: Culture | 12:30-1:30 p.m., South Mall, Webb University Center
  • Feb. 1: You, Me and Poetry | 7-9 p.m., North Café, Webb Center
  • Feb. 2: Game Night | 5-8 p.m., Newport News Room, Webb Center
  • Feb. 7: Black Feminists Taught Me | 5-7 p.m., Potomac York Room, Webb Center
  • Feb. 8: BHM Activity Hour: Sabor Afro | 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., Mane Hub, Webb Center
  • Feb. 8: Cultural Identity Conversation Circle | 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., Executive Dining Room, Webb Center
  • Feb. 9: U-Nite: Black & Gold | 6-8 p.m., The Barry Art Museum
  • Feb. 10: BHM Day Hike | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., First Landing State Park
  • Feb. 13: BHM Activity Hour: Decades | 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., North Café, Webb Center
  • Feb 15: "Guns, Breakfast and Liberation: New Interpretations of the Black Panther Party" lecture with Charles E. Jones, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, | 12:15 p.m., Chesapeake Room, Webb Center
  • Feb. 15: Coffee & Contemporary Art | 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., The Barry Art Museum
  • Feb. 16: BHM Gala | 7-10 p.m., North Café, Webb Center
  • Feb. 20: BHM Activity Hour: Black Out | 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., North Café, Webb Center
  • Feb. 22: Better Together | 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., Barry Arts Museum
  • Feb. 22: IntersectionaliTEA: Vogue 101| 7-9 p.m., North Café, Webb Center
  • Feb. 28: Reclaiming the Narrative | 6 – 7:30 p.m., Virtual ZOOM
  • Feb. 29: Sneaker Ball | 7-10 p.m., North Café, Webb Center

This year’s BHM observances are a partnership among various campus organizations including the Barry Art Museum, The Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (ISRE), African American Student Association, Black Student Alliance, African American Studies Program, Health Promotions, Recreation and Wellness, Student Activity Council, Women's and Gender Equity Council and others.

For more information about the OIR and BHM events, visit ODU's Black Initiatives page.