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Exploring the Legacy of Black History at UW–Madison

February 28, 2024

February 2014 marked the first student-organized, campus-wide celebration of Black History Month on the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s campus, with programming focusing on celebrating Black history, educating the campus community and honoring the contributions of Black students at the university. This year’s Black History Month theme, “Legacy X,” honored the 10-year milestone of student-led programming by looking back on what the Black community at UW–Madison has accomplished in the last decade.

The Black History Month Planning Committee and the Black Cultural Center organized and led this year’s programming, with many events honoring past Black History Month events held on campus.

Related: The Meaning of Black History Month

Four students pose together for a photo during a Black History Mont event.

It was a night of dancing, soul food, and cultural celebration at the Black History Month kickoff on Feb. 1. “A Celebration of History, Harmony and Heritage: A Family Reunion Experience” was a throwback event inspired by #UWBHM 2019, “Celebrating Legacy: The Family Reunion.” From left to right, Caasi Woji, who helped plan the event, Deyona Jones, Madison Johnson and Alicia Obiakor. Photo: Jeff Miller

Students and staff stand in a line dancing.

At left of center, BCC program coordinator Lauren Adams joins students in a line dance to the song Cupid Shuffle. Photo: Jeff Miller

Three students stand at the front of a room quizzing participants in the style of Jeopardy.

From left to right, BHMPC members Tchoumba Paasewe, Caasi Woji and Jaiden Russell host a game of Jeopardy on Black culture during the kickoff event. Photo: Jeff Miller

Students stand around a mannequin head, working to braid its hair.

From left to right, students Bryah Lewis, Blessing Maguka and Promise Maduka work with a mannequin head used for hairstyling to practice making twists during Protect Your Crown on Feb. 6. The event centered around hair empowerment by exploring different hair textures, iconic contemporary Black hairstyles and self-care for Black hair. Photo: Jeff Miller

Three students sit at a table and pose with their homemade hair care products.

From left to right, students Aja McKay, Hannah Eyobed and Guida Daft hold samples of their self-made haircare products created as a part of the night’s celebration of Black hair. Students followed various recipes, using a mix of fruits, oils and plants to make their own products. Photo: Jeff Miller

Event attendees gather around an archival poster, participating in an engaging discussion.

The event “Legacy Unveiled: A Chronicle of Black Student Connection at UW–Madison,” held on Feb. 9, highlighted pivotal moments on campus through the eyes of Black alumni. Primary documents, photos and artifacts were on display, and a panel of BHMPC alumni talked through their on-campus experiences and the legacy Black students have created over the past decade. From left to right, BHMPC members Serenity Given-Sheets, Lisa Amanor, Makayla Cole and Mamaa Yorke listen to stories from guest speaker Karla Foster, a staff member who founded the BHMPC and served as inaugural BCC program coordinator. Photo: Robert San Juan

An archival photo of the front page of a newspaper from 1969.

Above, archival photos at the event showcase moments of the Black Student Strike of 1969, when black students at UW–Madison called for a campus-wide student strike until administrators agreed to 13 demands. Related: Black History Month: An Ode to Black Catalysts. Photo: Robert San Juan

Students stand gather in a demonstration kitchen listening to a local chef talk about food.

During a partnership event with WUD x Cuisine on Feb. 16, students got a hands-on food experience with Chef James Bloodsaw Jr., owner of Justveggiez. His restaurant, located in Madison, specializes in plant-based vegan food.

Students stand in a line behind a table dishing up the food they recently prepared.

Before the cooking demonstration, participants engaged in an open discussion on food insecurity, nutrition and the agriculture industry. Students then helped prep and cook vegan recipes alongside Chef Bloodsaw before enjoying a plate.

Students pose in a large group behind visiting musical artists.

Grammy nominated artist D Smoke visited campus on Feb. 21 as this year’s Black History Month keynote presenter. The bilingual rapper, songwriter, and musician performed at Shannon Hall in Memorial Union. Above, D Smoke (first row, center) along with DJ Shanxx (first row, left) and D Smoke’s brother, R&B singer Davion (first row, right) pose with members of the BHMPC before his engaging set. Photo: Robert San Juan

A small group of students gather around a visiting musical artists for a meet and greet.

Students and members of the BHMPC had a chance to meet with D Smoke before his performance. Photo: Robert San Juan

A visiting musical artists crouches down while performing on stage to take selfie photos with the audience.

D Smoke poses for selfies with audience members after inviting them to join him near the stage for his performance. Photo: Robert San Juan