Black History Month

The St. John’s University community is celebrating Black History/African American History Month (BHM) with in-person and virtual engagement opportunities organized by departments and clubs from the Queens and Staten Island, NY, campuses. BHM, celebrated nationally in February, pays tribute to and honors the rich and diverse culture, legacy, traditions, histories, and contributions made by Black individuals and communities.

In recognition of Black History Month, the Office of Multicultural Affairs is highlighting events under the unifying, multicampus theme,“The Power Rests in Our Hands.” Under this theme, we recognize that power is infinite—which means we all can harness it. This month, you are all invited to tap into your power, and to attend our events. 


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Dialogue with Jelani Cobb, Ph.D.

Monday, January 31; 5–6:30 p.m.
D’Angelo Center Ballroom
Organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs
Walk-ins are welcome.
Limited to-go meals will be provided.


St. John’s University remains committed to unpacking and exploring from the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including how far our country has come and how far we must go. Using dialogue, all members of the University community are encouraged to join us as we consider past and present histories, and future action. 

This evening features guest performers and a keynote by Columbia University professor and New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb, Ph.D. Dr. Cobb’s talk, “The Half Life of Freedom,” centers on race and justice in America today. After the event, in response to the pandemic, guests can enjoy a grab-and-go dinner catered by Jacob Restaurant

About Jelani Cobb, Ph.D.

Jelani Cobb headshot

Jelani Cobb, Ph.D., is a staff writer at The New Yorker, writing on race, history, justice, politics, and democracy, as well as Columbia University’s Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism. He recently coedited The Matter of Black Lives, a collection of The New Yorker’s most groundbreaking writing on Black history and culture in America, featuring the work of legendary writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. Publishers Weekly writes, “Beyond the stellar prose, what unites these pieces, which range widely in length, tone, and point of view, is James Baldwin’s insight, paraphrased by Jelani Cobb, that ‘the American future is precisely as bright or as dark as our capacity to grapple with [the legacy of racism].’” 

Dr. Cobb also edited and wrote a new introduction for the Kerner Commission—a historic study of American racism and police violence originally published in 1967—helping to contextualize it for a new generation. The condensed version of the report, called The Essential Kerner Commision Report, is described as an “essential resource for understanding what Cobb calls the ‘chronic national predicament’ of racial unrest” (Publishers Weekly).

During a historic election in the midst of a global pandemic, Dr. Cobb investigated allegations of voter fraud and disenfranchisement as a PSB Frontline correspondent in the documentary Whose Vote Counts, revealing how these unfounded claims entered the political mainstream. He clearly presents how racial inequities, COVID-19, and voter suppression became interlinked crises, contributing to a long legacy of inequality. For tackling one of the key issues at the heart of modern US politics and carefully elucidating what the fight for voting rights looks like in the 21st century, Whose Vote Counts received a Peabody Award

Dr. Cobb was also the correspondent for the Frontline documentary Policing the Police, where he examined whether police reform is a viable solution in the wake of mounting protests calling for racial justice, and explored how we can hold police departments accountable. Previously, he was prominently featured in Ava Duvernay’s 13th, her Oscar-nominated documentary about the current mass incarceration of Black Americans, which traces the subject to its historical origins in the Thirteenth Amendment.

Dr. Cobb is the recipient of the Hillman Prize for opinion and analysis journalism, as well as the Walter Bernstein Award from the Writers Guild of America for his investigative work on Policing the Police. He is the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, and To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic.

Stamped from the Beginning Book Discussion by Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 2; 7–8 p.m. EST
Organized by the Black Authors Book Club, St. John’s School of Law 


The St. John’s University School of Law’s Black Authors Book Club invites you to a conversation with Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D., author of the bestselling book, Stamped from the Beginning. Dr. Kendi’s book reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, and shows you why we feel how we feel and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

About Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D.

Ibram Kendi headshot - credit Stephen Voss

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor.  

Dr. Kendi is the author of many highly acclaimed books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest ever winner of that award. He had also produced five straight #1 New York Times bestsellers, including How to Be an Antiracist, Antiracist Baby, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored by Jason Reynolds. In 2020, Time magazine named Dr. Kendi one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was awarded a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Genius Grant. His next two books, coming out in June, are How to Raise an Antiracist and the picture book, Goodnight Racism

Engaged Conversation by iAsia Brown

Virtual Event
Thursday, February 3; 1:50–3:15 p.m. EST
Organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs 

Zoom | Register

Deciding to pivot can be one of the hardest, sometimes most debilitating decisions you can make in your career, relationships, academic journey, or lives—, and yet, it can be the most freeing. Join us as queer artist, storyteller, US veteran, techie, and DEI expert iAsia Brown, known as the “Tech Picasso,” uses her story to inspire and teach you how to use your power to make tangible next steps that can pivot you from your monotony to your calling.  

About iAsia Brown

iAsia Brown headshot

iAsia Brown, also known as “The Tech Picasso,” is a self-proclaimed, “Coolest Nerd You’ll Ever Meet.” She is currently a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. Her superpower is connecting with people and helping them unlock or tap into pieces of themselves they didn’t know existed, while creating safe spaces for people to communicate. 

Ms. Brown currently focuses on robotics and creating “smart limbs,” leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. iAsia came to Microsoft after serving 12 years in the US Marine Corps and four in the US Air Force.

A Black, Queer and Nerdy Conversation by Josh Mackey 

Virtual Event
Monday, February 7; 1:50–3:15 p.m. EST
Organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs

Zoom | Register (

You might be a superhero! Have you ever wondered, what is my superpower? Freelance writer and content creator Josh Mackey uses his writing to explore representation within the media, focusing on television and film. Utilizing discussion around on-screen representation in superhero films, Mr. Mackeyteaches you how to embrace your identity or superpower—similar to how he embraces being Black, queer, and nerdy—to effect the change you want to see in the world. 

About Josh Mackey

Joshua Mackey headshot

Joshua Mackey (he/him) is a freelance writer, content creator, and culture critic. He writes at the intersection of Black, queer, and nerdy. As a film and television critic, he routinely reviews popular movies and TV series through an inclusive lens for Geeks of Color, while interviewing talent about their latest work. As a contributor, his articles can also be found in Nerdist and INTO.

With experience in media and diversity, equity, and inclusion, he creates thoughtful and inclusive copy, articles, and website content as a copywriter to engage diverse audiences, promote business growth, and enhance the brands of different organizations. When he’s not writing, he is reading, and when he’s not reading, he is streaming way too much television. 

Follow his work on his website at or on Twitter at @JustJoshing_7.

Money-Generating Activities Panel by the Urban Legacy Foundation, Ltd.

Tuesday, February 8; 5–7 p.m. EST
Organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs 

Zoom | Register

Please join us for part two of the “Generational Wealth-Building Series,” done in partnership with the Urban Legacy Foundation, Ltd. led by founder and black serial entrepreneur, Shane Osinloye. Part one, held in November, centered on foundational knowledge on the concepts of wealth and generational wealth. 

Now, part two discusses money-generating activities. Mr. Osinloye invites guest panelists to share their knowledge, skills, and activities used to generate and hold wealth. Part three, to be held in March, focuses on Black women entrepreneurs and their journeys to wealth. 

About Shane Osinloye

Shane Osinloye headshot

Shane Osinloyeis a social entrepreneur who turned a venting session about entrepreneurship stress into the Urban Legacy Foundation Ltd., a nonprofit dedicated to Black excellence. Through recognizing the impact of the Black wealth crisis as the root of various racial issues, Urban Legacy provides training courses and facilitates all forms of wealth-generating activities to build Black wealth and improve the quality of life in the Black community. 

“African Americans and Africa: Conversations across the Centuries” by Nemata Blyden, Ph.D.

Monday, February 14; 1:50 p.m. EST
Organized by the Africana Studies program and the Department of History 

WebEx | Register  

The Department of History and the Africana Studies programs are excited to host a talk by Nemata Blyden, Ph.D., Professor of History and International Affairs, The George Washington University. For questions, contact Jessica L. Harris, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History, at [email protected].

About Nemata Blyden, Ph.D.

Nemata Blyden, Ph.D. headshot

Nemata Blyden, Ph.D., is Professor of History and International Affairs at The George Washington University. She holds a B.A. in History and International Relations from Mount Holyoke College, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University. 

Dr. Blyden specializes in African and African Diaspora history. She recently coauthored “Between Africa and America: Recalibrating Black Americans’ Relationship to the Diaspora,” with Jeannette Eileen Jones, Ph.D

Her 2019 book, African Americans and Africa: A New History (Yale University Press), provides an introduction to the relationship between African Americans and the African continent from the era of slavery to the present, examining the diversity of African American identities through relationships with region, ethnicity, immigration, and slavery to investigate a fundamental area of African American studies. She is the author of West Indians in West Africa, 1808–1880: The African Diaspora in Reverse (University of Rochester Press, 2000). 

Dr. Blyden was a consultant for “In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience” for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library). She has lived in Africa, Europe, and the Soviet Union.  

Holistic wellness panel featuring Tristen B. Johnson, Ph.D.; Yasmin L. Naaman, LMHC; and Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Pharm.D., B.C.P.S., A.A.C.C. 

Virtual Event
Thursday, February 17; 1:50–3:15 p.m. EST
Organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs


Copanelists working in the health care field, including Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Pharm.D., B.C.P.S., A.A.C.C., Clinical Professor, Department of Clinical Health Professions, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Tristen Brenaé Johnson, Ph.D., owner and Chief Executive Officer of The Tristen Johnson LLC; and Yasmin L. Naaman, LMHC, Owner and Psychotherapist at Lotus Life Mental Health Counseling, educate you on the benefits of holistic wellness practices, examine health disparities across communities, discuss the advantages of holistic medicine, and offer their unique perspectives on how they use these practices to transform their own and others’ lives.

About Tristen B. Johnson, Ph.D.

Tristen B. Johnson, Ph.D. headshot

Tristen Brenaé Johnson, Ph.D., (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Peoria, IL. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are at the center of the way in which she connects with people and how she leads integrated teams. Her identities as a Black woman have given her life experiences that she uses to center other Black women in critical conversations about equity and justice. 

She is inspired by Angela Davis, Ph.D., and Beyoncé. She is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of The Tristen Johnson LLC, a business dedicated to consulting, trainings, and workshops surrounding diversity and inclusion initiatives and making body jewelry. 

Her full-time role is at Moffitt Cancer Center where she works in the diversity department. Dr. Johnson earned her Ph.D. from Illinois State University. Her research centers on Black women diversity practitioners at predominantly White institutions. She is a TEDx speaker and in her spare time she loves to shop, travel, and write.

About Yasmin L. Naaman, LMHC 

Yasmin L. Naaman headshot

Yasmin L. Naaman, LMHC, is a licensed psychotherapist and the owner of Lotus Life Mental Health Counseling, a group private practice based in New York City. Her mission is to support and uplift women of color, helping to navigate through generational traumas, relationship issues, and everything in between. She frequently uses humor in her approach and finds that a more laid back, relational approach tends to be most effective in helping her clients feel seen and understood.  She prides herself on being human before anything else, and always authentic to self through her work.  


About Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Pharm.D., BCPS, AACC

Manouchkathe Cassagnol headshot

Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Pharm.D., BCPS, AACC, is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Clinical Health Professions, the Assistant Dean of Service Programs, and the Assistant Director of the Urban Pharmaceutical Care, Research, and Education Institute in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at St. John’s University. In conjunction with her faculty appointment, she is also a Clinical Specialist for Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy at Nassau University Medical Center

Dr. Cassagnol earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. She then completed ASHP-accredited PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice and PGY-2 Internal Medicine Pharmacotherapy residencies at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She later completed a Drug Interaction Editorial Fellowship at the Medical Letter Inc. 

She has been the past President of the Association of Black Health System Pharmacists (ABHP) and was the 2010 recipient of the ABHP President Award. Dr. Cassagnol is the 2021 ASHP-ABHP Joint Leadership Award recipient. 

Dr. Cassagnol frequently speaks on the topic of cardiovascular pharmacotherapy to both health professionals and community members. She has presented many abstracts both nationally and internationally and has published numerous papers in the area of cardiology. 

Dr. Cassagnol also has led many community outreach initiatives and service projects, including the Changing Faces of Pharmacy, a student enrichment program geared toward increasing awareness of the pharmacy profession within underrepresented minority high school populations. Dr. Cassagnol currently maintains her clinical practice in the telemetry unit at Nassau University Medical Center.

LGBTQ+ Resource Center Book Talk by Dennis Tyler, Ph.D. 

Thursday, February 24; 1:50–3:15 p.m.
Organized by the University’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center

Hybrid (In-person location: IRC Resource Room in Sun Yat Sen Hall)
To register in person, email (seating is limited)
Register for online attendance

Dennis Tyler, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of English at Fordham University, discusses his forthcoming book, Disabilities of the Color Line: Redressing Antiblackness from Slavery to the Present (NYU Press, Feb 2022). 

This is a hybrid event. In-person space is limited. In-person attendees must follow St. John’s COVID-19 regulations; for more information, see “Keeping St. John’s Healthy.” To register for the event in-person, email Shanté Paradigm Smalls, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Black Studies, at q[email protected].

About Dennis Tyler, Ph.D.

Dennis Tyler headshot

Dennis Tyler, Ph.D., has published work on African American literature and culture, disability studies, performance studies, and popular culture, and his essays and reviews have appeared in African American Review, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, Gender: Space, The Feminist Wire, Oxford Bibliographies, American Literary History Online Review, and elsewhere. His first book, Disabilities of Color, is forthcoming from New York University Press. 

His work has been recognized with grants and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies. He has taught courses on Oprah’s Book Club, African American autobiography, Black disability studies, Black women novelists, and the First Amendment right to protest.

More Information

For more information on Black History Month or any of our peer spotlighted events, contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs at [email protected] or 718-990-2515 during campus business hours.