Emerson to host panels, events during Black History Month


The college will show Senseless Smoke, a film based on the experiences of several Boston youths, as one of several events in celebration of Black History Month.

By Vivi Smilgius

Emerson will host several events in celebration of the nationwide observance of Black History Month, including panels, keynote speakers, and roundtable discussions throughout the month of February.

“The college is committed to supporting the centers and offices on our campus that continuously celebrate Black History throughout the year, including the Elma Lewis Center, the Social Justice Center, and the Living Stories Project,” said Interim President Bill Gilligan in an emailed statement to The Beacon.

In addition to its upcoming events, the college also hosted several events during the first week of Black History Month, including an open mic series, black networking event, and a virtual presentation from Boston’s poet laureate Porsha Olayiwola.

This year’s various events will be held in-person—an improvement from last year, said Director of Intercultural Student Affairs Tamia Jordan, when events were hosted virtually to comply with pandemic protocols.

“[Being] able to present and come together in-person changes things from last year,” Jordan said. “But we’re certainly not back to pre-pandemic [standards] yet—that’s going to take another year.

On Feb. 12, Emerson will host the second of a two-part conference in Boston and online at the Business of Creative Enterprises’ Getting a Seat at the Table conference. Attendees will hear from a keynote speaker and have opportunities to meet with panels exploring street art for social change, cryptocurrency, and independent music artists.

On the same day, “What is Black Creativity?” will occur from 8-9 p.m. The event features live performances and takes place in the Calderwood Pavilion at Boston’s Center for the Arts.

Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interest Alumni Association will host an online discussion on Feb. 17 about Black women in radio. Scheduled panelists and moderators are all Emerson alums, graduating as far back as 1976 to as recently as 2012.

A week later, on Feb. 24, the college will show Senseless Smoke, a film based on the experiences of several Boston youths, in the Little Building’s Student Performance Center. 

Jordan said her office focused the first of its weekly “Tough Topic Tuesday” discussions on the intersectionality of being Black and an immigrant in the U.S. Next week’s conversation, she said, will tackle the topic of suicide in communities of color.

“That’s a conversation that doesn’t tend to happen in our communities, so we wanted to lift that up and to provide some resources and support,” she said.  

Jordan added that EBONI will display artwork by students of color around campus.

“[EBONI] is going to be showcasing the art of students in some places on campus. It’ll be really great to see what our students are creating,” Jordan said. “We have some folks who do some really cool illustrations in the cultural center, so I hope they get their artwork out there.”

Jordan, who is also the co-adviser for EBONI, said the group was working to foster a productive and successful conversation among Emerson’s black community members.

While she commended the college’s assembly of events, Jordan said she celebrates black history every day and wishes more people would do the same.

“I certainly appreciate the things [the college has] done in the past and the things we’re doing,” Jordan said. “I feel like there’s never enough. That’s just not possible. But that’s the case, [even] beyond Emerson.”