January 25, 2021 at 10:45am
Dane Lisser

Celebration to feature faculty intersectionality discussion, art exhibit and jazz performance

Millikin University will host a variety of events and programming created by Millikin students to celebrate Black History Month this February.

Black History Month originated in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson promoted what was known as "Negro History Week" in an effort to educate people about the accomplishments of African Americans. In 1976, the celebration was expanded to include the entire month of February, the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. Black History Month is celebrated to remember important individuals and events in African American history.

Tonya Hines, MBA '18, serves as the director of the Long-Vanderburg Scholars Program at Millikin and associate director of Campus Life for Engagement & Leadership. She also serves as the advisor to the Black Student Union. "I am moved about black history every day but most importantly when we celebrate at Millikin," she said.

Hines added, "We offer our students an opportunity to learn, embrace and acknowledge those moments that have been left out of American history. In doing so, we have introduced various leaders to speak and interact with the campus community in the past. COVID-19 has certainly adjusted our programming, but we will livestream events to ensure the campus community is engaged continually. This year, next to social media engagement, black voices will be heard in broadcast through WJMU and over a timeline acknowledging black historical moments at Millikin. A faculty intersectionality discussion will take place, an art exhibit and lecture featuring a Millikin alumnus, and lastly a jazz performance."  

To embrace the new, Millikin students are given the opportunity to create programming of their own acknowledging contributions and injustices that matter so much in the lives of the black community around the globe and on Millikin's campus. Student-led programming for Black History Month will be carried out by the Millikin Black Student Union.

"Each year throughout the United States, we set aside intentional time in February to reflect on the many contributions of the African American community to our nation's history. This time gives us an opportunity to celebrate individuals and groups who have overcome significant barriers because of racial inequities to make seminal contributions to the American story," said Millikin President Dr. Jim Reynolds. "This year, the schedule of events on Millikin's campus is inspiring in its breadth of topics and the thoughtful interconnections between contemporary society and our historic past."

For more information about Millikin University's Black History Month celebration, please visit millikin.edu/black-history-month-celebration. Events planned for the month are as follows:

Jan. 25 – March 4

Southside Color Theories & Half Truths

Art Exhibit by Paul Branton, Class of 1995

Kirkland Fine Arts Center, Perkinson Art Gallery

Chicago artist Paul Branton has spent most of his life on the city's south side. Branton's artwork explores his view of life in the inner city with works that are gestural, poetic and often physical. Branton has exhibited his work in many galleries in and around the Chicago region, and his work hangs in private collections across the country. Outside of visual art, Branton is a notable poet and filmmaker.

Paul Branton

Paul Branton

Calendars featuring Branton's original artwork will be on sale for $30 each. Money from each calendar sale will go to the Pauline Phillips Scholarship Fund–an endowed scholarship established by Millikin African American alumni in honor of Pauline Phillips. Phillips served as director of Housekeeping for Millikin from 1964-88 and was well known for her caring and nurturing of students. The scholarship may be given to a deserving African American student.

Beginning Jan. 28 – each Thursday at 2 p.m.

Social Justice Book Club

"So You Want To Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo

Find more information, visit millikin.edu/sjbook-club

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo

In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today's racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.

Feb. 9 from 12:30 – 1:15 p.m.

Intersectionality Project, featuring Dr. Ngozi Onuora

Zoom Broadcast

Contact Millikin's Office of Campus life at campuslife@millikin.edu to register

Dr. Ngozi Onuora is currently an associate professor in Millikin University's School of Education and the chair of the African American Studies minor. Although she is a native of Chicago, Ill., she has spent most of her life in Decatur, Ill. Dr. Onuora graduated from MacArthur High School, then attended Richland Community College before transferring to Illinois State University (ISU) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education with specializations in mathematics and social sciences in 1991. She was also inducted into the ISU College of Education Alumni Hall of Fame in 2010. A few years later, she earned a Master of Science in Educational Administration (1996) from Eastern Illinois University (EIU) and was awarded the 1996 Warner Administration Award. Finally, in December 2013, she completed her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction in the Language and Literacy Division at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and participated in graduation ceremonies in May 2014. Her specialty focus is children's and young adult literature. At UIUC she won the 2003 Al Davis Leadership Award.

Dr. Ngozi Onuora

Dr. Onuora's teaching and learning has been recognized in a multitude of ways. She was the 2008-09 State Farm Engaged Education Fellow, selected as the 2012 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, awarded the 2014-16 James Millikin Estate Professorship, was nominated for the 2015 U.S. Professor of the Year Award, was the first recipient of the renamed Dr. Ralph A. Czerwinski Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award in 2016, was voted by honors students to receive the 2017 James Millikin Scholars Educator of the Year Award and was one of 25 scholars in the country selected for the 2019 Council of Independent Colleges Gilder Lehrman Institute on Civil War in American Memory at Yale University–an opportunity that allowed Dr. Onuora to work with the country's top historians including Pulitzer Prize winning historian/author, Dr. David Blight. 

Feb. 11 at 4 p.m.

Virtual Exhibit Walk-Through & Lecture by Paul Branton, Class of 1995

Livestream on Millikin University's Facebook page

Paul Branton

Feb. 18 from 12 noon – 2 p.m.

Chris Greene Jazz Quartet Performance

Livestream on Millikin University's Campus Life Facebook page

Chris Greene Jazz Quartet

  • Chris Greene - Saxes
  • Damian Espinosa - Piano
  • Marc Piane - Bass
  • Steve Corley - Drums

The Chris Greene Quartet (CGQ) has been a highly visible part of Chicago's jazz scene since 2005, and has maintained a stable lineup from the beginning, with the exception of Steve Corley, who has held the drum chair since 2011. Damian Espinosa on piano and keyboards and Marc Piane on acoustic and electric basses have been onboard since the beginning. Unique among Chicago bands, most of whom feature, by necessity, constantly shifting personnel, the CGQ has been able to develop a true group sound and feel, harking back to bands from the classic age of jazz when groups could stay together for long periods of time. While honoring the tradition, the CGQ incorporates elements of funk, hip-hop, rock, pop, the blues and reggae, reflecting their diverse backgrounds.

The Chris Greene Quartet

The CGQ was also recently honored at the 2018 Chicago Music Awards with an award for "Best Jazz Entertainer" and recently won an award in the category of "Best Jazz Band" in the Chicago Reader's "Best of Chicago" Poll.

Saxophonist and composer Chris Greene was born in Evanston, Ill., and spent his formative years in the award-winning Evanston High School Wind and Jazz Ensembles. As a teenager he began to play professionally with many local pop/rock and jazz bands. Greene eventually went to Bloomington, Ind., to attend the prestigious Indiana University Jazz Studies program and studied with renowned professor and cellist David Baker. Greene returned to Chicago in 1994 and has since collaborated with some of the nation's most creative and versatile musicians. As a performer, Greene can be seen with many different groups–in many different genres. He also leads his own critically-acclaimed group, the Chris Greene Quartet. He has also performed or recorded with the following artists: Common, The Temptations, Eric Roberson, Ed Motta, Steve Coleman & Five Elements, Maysa Leak, Ten City, Sheena Easton, Steve Cole, Michael Manson, Andrew Bird, The J. Davis Trio, Chris Rob, Vic Lavender, Jesse De La Pena, Liquid Soul and The Mighty Blue Kings.

Chris Greene

Greene was also featured in the "Play On" episode of the FOX-TV show, "Empire," and he also composed the score for the Chicago Children's Theatre's recent production of "Bud, Not Buddy."

These Black History Month engagements are being provided by the Millikin Office of Campus Life as part of its cultural awareness calendar.

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