UA celebrates Black History Month

This month, the University of Alaska honors Black History Month and celebrates African Americans’ accomplishments and contributions, as well as the distinct influence they have on the cultural fabric of our country and Alaska.

“Black History Month is a time for reflection, acknowledgment, and appreciation for the contribution that the Black community has made to the history of the United States and its territories,” said Jo Malbert Narváez, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator for UAF’s Nanook Diversity and Action Center. “Our Black History Month celebrations will educate our student body on the achievements of our Black community, as well as recognize the cultural context in which these achievements take place. In a time where representation is incredibly important for our developing students, engaging with role models who understand their stories can have life-changing effects.”

Black History Month was first celebrated nationally in 1976 when former President Gerald Ford urged the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, the month of February has recognized and celebrated the incredible roles African Americans have played in history, and their many contributions to the wellbeing of our state and nation.

In September 2019, Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy signed into law Senate Bill 40 permanently establishing the month of February each year as Black History Month in Alaska. The state’s theme  for Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote”, and focuses on the “ongoing struggle on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote.” The proclamation also honors the “strong and positive influence African Americans have had on Alaska started well before statehood as a result of African American men migrating to Alaska to work in whaling, fur trading, and eventually gold mining.”

Here are some highlights of the events being held across the UA system:

Free events open to everyone at the University of Alaska Anchorage: 

FILM: Always in Season: This event was held Feb. 5

  • Descendants of the victims and perpetrators of lynching work together to heal a violent history. Blending observational footage with first-person testimonies and expert input, the film examines the lingering impact of lynching and the link between this historic form of racial terrorism and th racial violence that exists today. 

Open Mic Night ft Troy Bond (Comedian): 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13 at the Student Union Den

  • Join us from 7pm to 8pm for another fun Open Mic Night. From 8pm to 9pm, we'll have comedian Troy Bond offering up laughs. Troy Bond speaks about his experience growing up with a black father and white mother. Snacks and beverages included!

 WINTERFEST: Multicultural Fair: 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27th at the Student Union Cafeteria

  • Enjoy free performances, cultural music, & food from UAA students, staff, & faculty at the 2020 multicultural fair!


Free events open to everyone at the University of Alaska Fairbanks:

Reel Talk: Black Is...Black Ain’t: a showing of the documentary, “Black is...Black Ain’t” followed by discussion of the movie. This event was held on Feb. 4.

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washinton on the Intersectionality of Race, Faith, and Sexuality:  6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13 in the UAF Wood Center Ballroom. 

  • Guest speaker Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington is a nationally recognized consultant on diversity and will be speaking on the way that the intersection of faith, race, and sexuality affect people's lives. 

Black History Month Trivia: 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18th at The Pub on UAF campus.

  • Long-standing trivia night at the UAF Pub with categories about Black History.

Latoya Shauntay Snell: The Running Fat Chef: 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the Wood Center Ballroom

  • Self-proclaimed as the Running Fat Chef, guest speaker Latoya Shauntay Snell is a professional ultra-marathoner and body positivity advocate who will speak about how her race, gender, and body type have affected her career. Snell's visit also coincides with the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Black Alaska showcase: Feb. 17-24 at Arctic Java

  • This 40-piece display will place Alaskan Black history in the context of national Black History, highlighting events and people who have left their mark in our state and nation's history.


Free events open to everyone at the University of Alaska Southeast:

  • Screening of Moonlight at 3 p.m. on Feb 2 at the Egan Library media room.
  • On-campus housing bulletin boards spotlight extraordinary African Americans and their contributions.