Red, Yellow and Green paint stripe symbol for Black History Month

Black History Month

In recognition of Black Heritage Month (BHM), St. John’s University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs has organized a multicampus, in-person celebration organized by departments and clubs from the Queens and Staten Island, NY, campuses. BHM (also known as Black History/African American History Month), is celebrated nationally in February. This month pays tribute to and honors the rich and diverse culture, legacy, traditions, histories, and innumerable contributions of the Black communities. 

This year we honor the Black community through our theme, “Stepping into the Spotlight.” Under this year’s theme, we encourage students to embrace their main character energy and become the stars of their own lives. With each event, we will focus on a different “spotlight”; some encourage students to step in, while others focus on the celebration of notable Black figures who have stepped into their own major spotlights.

We invite you to celebrate and join us in the University’s 2024 celebration of BHM. To accommodate the needs of our guests, we ask that all attendees register for each event. 

R.I.S.E. Black History Month Mixer
Thursday, February 1 | 1:50–3:15 p.m. 
D’Angelo Center Living Room | Queens Campus
Join the R.I.S.E. Network team to kick off Black History Month! There will be food, music, and more. Bring your friends.

“Journey to the Center of Success: a Conversation with Olympians Priscilla Loomis and Aliann Pompey"
In collaboration with Red Storm Athletics
Monday, February 5 | 1:50–3:15 p.m.
Inclusivity Resource Center and Zoom | Queens Campus
Former Johnnie and Olympian Priscilla Loomis ’11CPS and four-time Olympian and former NCAA 400-meter champion Aliann Pompey, Director of the St. John’s Women’s Track and Field program, will share their journeys as they achieved success at the Olympics and beyond. During this discussion, we will explore how to transition from a college sports career to the business world, building your own brand, and more. Food and refreshments will be provided.

Keynote Address featuring Yolanda Sealey Ruiz, Ph.D.—The Voices of Empowerment Conference: “Using Counter-Stories in Education for Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Teaching”

Friday, February 9 | 9–11 a.m. 
Registration Link:
The Institute for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, in partnership with The School of Education, will host the Voices of Empowerment Conference: “Using Counter-Stories in Education for Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Teaching.”

The conference seeks to employ (counter) storytelling as a means of opening spaces for participants to authentically share and critically discuss their experiences with the New York State Education Department’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Framework in use by K–12 educators.

Soul Cypher Remix: We Speak Power Talent Showcase
In collaboration with the R.I.S.E. Network, St. John’s Campus Activities, and Sisters Empowered NYC, Sony Music 
Friday, February 9 | 6–10 p.m. 
Sodano Coffee House, D’Angelo Center | Queens Campus
Join us for a celebration of Black culture and creativity. Presented by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and various St. John’s organizations, this RSVP-only event will feature 10 talented artists (including singers, rappers, and spoken word poets), while offering an interactive set design, brand collaborations, and memorable parting gifts.

“Africans and Blackness in India: Diaspora, Race, and Identity in the Global South”
Tuesday, February 13 | 7–10 p.m.
Webex | Queens Campus
Register Here
Don’t miss this special talk hosted by the St. John’s Africana Studies Department featuring Shobana Shankar, Ph.D., Professor, Department of History, Stony Brook University.

St. John's Women's Basketball Game: St. John's vs. Seton Hall
Tuesday, February 13 | 7-10 p.m.
Carnesecca Arena | Queens Campus
Join us in the celebration of Black Heritage Month with Red Storm Athletics for a special trivia and game segment during the Women's Basketball game.  Giveaways will be provided. 

Black Shark Tank 2.0
In collaboration with the Venture & Innovation Center, St. John’s University’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants Inc., and the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow 
Thursday, February 15 | 5–7 p.m.
University Center, Suite D | Queens Campus
Inspired by the television show Shark Tank, Black Shark Tank 2.0 is back! Have an idea for a start-up? Well, here’s your chance at getting one step closer to becoming an entrepreneur. This event is being sponsored by St. John’s University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. Applications are due by February 9 and should be emailed to [email protected].

Haraya’s 32nd Annual Black and White Ball
Saturday, February 17 | 6 p.m.
D’Angelo Center Ballroom, Room 416 | Queens Campus
Join Haraya for the 32nd Annual Black and White Ball, celebrating this year’s theme, “Afrofuturism.” 

“Elevating Lost Histories” Film Festival
A film festival organized by the Institute for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, the Sankofa Cinema Club, and the Filmteenth Film Festival, will be held from February 21 through 23. 
Wednesday, February 21 | 2–5 p.m. 
The Little Theatre | Queens Campus
Join us for a screening of The Space Race, which uncovers the little-known stories of the first Black pilots, engineers, and scientists who became astronauts. It weaves together the stories of Black astronauts seeking to break the bonds of social injustice to reach for the stars, including Guion Bluford, Ed Dwight, and Charles Bolden, among many others. 

Directors Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (The Redeem Team) and Lisa Cortés (Little Richard: I Am Everything) profile the pioneering Black pilots, scientists, and engineers who joined NASA to serve their country in space, even as their country failed to achieve equality for them back on Earth. From 1963, when the assassination of JFK thwarted Captain Ed Dwight’s quest to reach the moon, to 2020, when the echoes of the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd reached the International Space Station, the story of African Americans at NASA is a tale of world events colliding with the aspirations of uncommon men. The bright dreams of Afrofuturism become reality in The Space Race, turning science fiction into science fact and forever redefining what “the right stuff” looks like, giving us new heroes to celebrate and a hidden history to discover.

Thursday, February 22 | 1:30–3:30 p.m.
D'Angelo Center Ballroom, Rooms 416 B and C | Queens Campus
Screening of The Coal Women Documentary
The Coal Women Documentary is about the incredible and inspirational strength of the Caribbean women in the Virgin Islands who carried baskets of coal on their heads to fuel ships starting in 1823 through the early 1900s. They would repeat this grueling task for one cent per basket to earn one dollar per day. This documentary offers us a glimpse into their work, life, and protests to make a living for their families. They should be hailed as heroes because they helped spark the Industrial Revolution throughout the world. It’s time the world knows their story and honors their accomplishments.
Thursday, February 22 | 5–7 p.m.
D’Angelo Center, Room 128 | Queens Campus
Screening of Becoming Black Lawyers
When these five Black lawyers set out on their journeys to receive a professional legal education, they did not realize that they would have to struggle against additional battles even more challenging than the rigors of learning the law in a hypercompetitive environment. They discover the contradictions of studying in an institution that idealistically represents “justice” for all.
Friday, February 23 | 2–5 p.m. 
The Little Theatre | Queens Campus
Screening of Fixing Grandma
Anders J. Cohen, M.D., and 83-year-old African American patient Barbara Y. Williams embarked on a journey into a case of minimally invasive spine surgery in Brooklyn, NY. This sparks a deeper look into the disparity between the Black community and medicine.

Deeper than Our Skins Series: Between the World and Me Book Discussion
In Collaboration with the R.I.S.E. Network 
Thursday, February 22 | Common Hour
Inclusivity Resource Center | Queens Campus
As we celebrate Black History Month, the OMA x ALA Book Series returns for a discussion on the New York Times Best-Seller, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. We will discuss this book and the questions it raises about race and racism in the United States. Sharing the history and impact of oppressions and its effects passed on from generation to generation, we will also host activities that encourage participants to reflect on their own racial consciousness and growing intersectionality within our campus.

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Mr. Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of Black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and today threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a Black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Mr. Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. He shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

“Let’s Jazz it Up!” Jazz Concert and Dinner
Thursday, February 22 | 5–7 p.m.
Kelleher Center, Kiernan Suite | Staten Island Campus
Join us on the Staten Island campus for an evening filled with captivating jazz performed by the St. John’s University Jazz Band. This event offers more than just a musical experience as it includes a dinner featuring a selection of soul food. Michael Gayle, the Director of the St. John’s Jazz Band, will share his knowledge and provide educational insights into the rich history of jazz. 

Mr. Gayle also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at St. John’s University, teaching courses on the history of music and jazz, the history of music in film, and song writing and production. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music and composition from Adelphi University, a master’s degree in music and composition from New York University, and another master’s degree in music teacher education from Columbia University. He is currently pursuing his doctor of education degree in music from Columbia University.