Under the banner “Melanin Mosaic: The Black Rebirth,” Black Legacy Month at Dartmouth this year will highlight the past, present, and future of the Black arts movement through music, literature, and the visual and performing arts.
“Black Legacy Month is a time in which the entire community comes together to celebrate and recognize the triumphs, struggles, and excellence of Blackness at Dartmouth,” says Zantasia Johnson, assistant director at the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. “And BLM 2024 focuses on the empowerment and uplifting of the Black community through the lens of Black creatives.”
The month of events starts Thursday, Feb. 1, at 5:30 p.m. at Collis Common Ground, with an opening celebration featuring a dinner, presentations from leaders of Black clubs and organizations, and a number of performances including Soyeya African Dance Troupe.
Other highlights include the hugely popular Black Legacy Month’s Got Talent show on Feb. 15, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Sarner Underground, and a Black brunch and fashion show at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25 in the atrium of the Class of 1982 Engineering and Computer Science Center.
Johnson credits the work of the student co-chairs, Rawan Hashim ’26 and Q Jones Jr. ’25, and the planning committee for envisioning and organizing an exciting slate of events to celebrate Black Legacy Month throughout February.
It’s telling that the planning committee doubled to more than 30 participants this year, says Hashim, who also co-chaired last year’s Black Legacy Month planning work.
“Last year we also had really large turnouts and we’re hoping that that’s the case for this year too. And obviously having more representation on our committee will help us bring the Black community together more as well,” Hashim says.
“We want to focus on the Black arts movement of today and how it’s embodied on campus. The theme celebrates all aspects of the arts that are represented on campus through the Black community,” Hashim says. “And we are holding up the contribution that Black people have on today’s culture of African American identity and American culture in general.”
Even the work of organizing the celebration highlights Black student creators, Hashim says, with artists Tiana Davis ’25 and Cameron Maddox ’24 designing the logo for Black Legacy Month 2024 and filmmakers Ivie Aiwuyo ’26 and Fiona Akilo Stawarz ’25 creating the short film about the community that will be shown at the opening ceremony.
Jones says a key aspect of Black Legacy Month is bringing people together.
“I’m most excited for just the camaraderie amongst the Black community and being able to experience all the events we planned out for them for the month of February,” Jones says.
The work of organizing and bringing people together to plan the Black Legacy Month celebrations has reinforced this sense of connection, he says.
“I feel like we’ve been able to build the community up these past few years after being broken apart somewhat during and after COVID,” Jones says. “I think that we’re stronger now because this past year we were able to show the strengths through BLM and to provide people with the opportunity to have fun. And I think this is one of the reasons why our community is growing and getting closer together.”
Hashim and Jones say other happenings they are looking forward to include a Black hair care event on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. at Shabazz Center. The gathering will include discussion of the stigma behind Black hairstyles and textures, a demo on how to do braids and twists, as well as providing free access to hair care products that people can’t necessarily access in Hanover.
There will also be a Hip Hop History event on Feb. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. in Carpenter 013, led by ethnomusicologist assistant professor Allie Martin, followed by an open freestyle rap battle with a prize for the winner.
And on Feb. 24 there will be a day trip to Boston to visit the African American History Museum. Registration is required for the Boston trip.
Jones says the work of organizing and planning the month of events also built up his sense of connection and respect for the Black community at Dartmouth.
“I think one of my favorite things about working on Black Legacy Month is just being able to see everyone’s different vision and creativity, and giving them the opportunity to plan their own events and incorporate what art means to them in those events,” Jones says. “And to see their vision to come true and be seen next month.”