'Undercovers' actor to kick off Black History Month events tonight

UF leads off Black History Month with ‘A Mahogany Renaissance'


Published: Monday, January 31, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 8:54 p.m.

Celebrity speakers, film, music, art and health awareness and education are just a few ways the local community will reflect on and celebrate the lives of black Americans during the observance of Black History Month.

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Actor Boris Kodjoe is guest speaker tonight at UF's opening ceremony.

Courtesy of NBC

Actor and former model Boris Kodjoe is the special guest speaker tonight at the opening ceremony for the University of Florida's month-long celebration, “Black History Month 2011: A Mahogany Renaissance.” Kodjoe, who rose to fame on the Showtime drama “Soul Food,” recently starred in the now-canceled spy drama "Undercovers." Organizers said he will discuss the transition between college life and adulthood.

Jaal Sowell, the fourth black Student Body President at UF, is hosting the event, taking place 5-10 p.m. at J. Wayne Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. There will be food, entertainment and cocktail attire is suggested.

Cecil Andrew Duffie, executive director of UF's Black History Month 2011, said it took the committee more than five months to create the theme “A Mahogany Renaissance.” He said the name fully represents what they want to share this year. Each word was thoughtfully chosen.

”Mahogany represents more than just a skin tone, but it also depicts the struggle African-Americans had to endure over time. From Negro to Colored and Afro-American to African-American, Blacks have been resilient enough to retain our sense of self despite changing cultural stigmas and ideals,” Duffie said. “Renaissance refers to [UF's] Black History Month's new and innovative programming. This year's events promise to be as riveting as the days of the Harlem Renaissance, the rebirth of African-American culture and art.”

The Alachua County Library District, UF and others have scheduled a diverse variety of events and programs that fill up the February calendar in honor Black History Month. (Unless noted, all events are free and open to the public.)

Today, 5-10 p.m.

Actor Boris Kodjoe will speak at the annual opening ceremony for UF's Black History Month festivities, which include a celebration devoted to the past, present, and progression of Black culture. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 1, 8 p.m.

Film viewing of Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls" and discussion about the representation of blacks in film and media. Reitz Union Auditorium.

Feb. 1, 8, 15 and 22, 9:30 a.m.

Pre-school story time: Stories, songs and activities illustrating black history and culture. The Library Partnership, 1130 NE 16th Ave. (Feb. 15, 10:30 a.m. Alachua County Headquarters Library, 410 E. University Ave.)

Feb, 2, 7 p.m.

”The Lottery,” a film that follows four families from Harlem and the Bronx leading up to the lottery for Harlem Success Academy, one of the most successful charter schools in New York City. UF's Library East.

Feb. 4, 11:45 a.m.-3 p.m.

Open house mixer with free food, music, games and the opportunity to mingle, network and get connected. Institute of Black Culture, 1510 W. University Ave.

Feb. 6, 3 p.m.

"I Have a Dream,” a dramatic interpretation by the Star Center Theatre of milestones in the civil rights movement. Alachua County Headquarters Library, 410 E. University Ave.

Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m.

Tonya Bolden, an award-winning black author, will discuss her life and her books, including her latest novel, "Finding Family.” Alachua County Headquarters Library, 410 E. University Ave.

Feb. 7, 7: 30 p.m.

An interactive forum in recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, highlighting the HIV/AIDS crisis in the black community, discussing relationship and the importance of communication in preventing sexual transmitted diseases. Rinker Hall, Room 110.

Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.

Gainesville Friends of Jazz presents "Celebrating Black History Month," a concert featuring the Doug Carn Quartet. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4225 NW 34th St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. General admission $20, Gainesville Friends of Jazz members $15 and students $10. (379-0300 or www.gnvfriendsofjazz.org)

Feb. 8-May 8

“Africa Interweave: Textile Diasporas,” an exhibition of more than 50 objects from around Africa such as garments, costumes, blankets and other works of art. Harn Museum of Art, Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road.

Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m.

Gator Chapter of the NAACP hosts its annual Supporting Black Owned Businesses event at Ruby's Restaurant, 308 NW Fifth Ave.

Feb. 9, 7 p.m.

Comedy Show (comedians TBA). Retiz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 10, 4 p.m.

Teen Tech Time: "The Black List," an HBO documentary by famous blacks. Alachua County Headquarters Library, 410 E. University Ave.

Feb. 10, 6 p.m.

Member of legendary rap group Run-DMC, Rev Run will put on his other hat as a motivational speaker. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 10, 6-9 p.m.

Museum Nights, an interactive evening celebrating African art and culture with art making, drum and dance performances and refreshments. Harn Museum of Art, Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road.

Feb. 11, 7 p.m.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.'s Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Kids' Day,” a day-long educational and fun event for students in Alachua County that aims to reinforce the importance of school within the black community. T.B. McPherson Park, 1717 SE 15th St.

Feb. 13, 2 p.m.

"Black History: Outside the Box, "featuring dancing, singing, storytelling and more. Alachua County Headquarters Library, 410 E. University Ave.

Feb. 14, 4 p.m.

"Zora Is My Name,” a celebration of the life of author Zora Neale Hurston. Library Partnership, 1130 NE 16th Ave.

Feb. 16, 4 p.m.

"Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later," a documentary featuring present-day Little Rock Central High School students, faculty, community leaders and one of the original "Little Rock Nine,” the nine black students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Library Partnership, 1130 NE 16th Ave.

Feb. 16, 5:30-8:00 p.m.

“An Evening with the Dues: Pioneers in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement,” featuring civil rights attorney John Due and his wife Patricia Stephens Due, who garnered national attention when she was arrested as a student at Florida A&M University for trying to integrate a lunch counter. Buddy & Anne MacKay Auditorium in Pugh Hall on UF's campus. ( 392-7168 or http://www.history.ufl.edu/oral/

Feb. 16, 6 p.m.

Health forum about sickle cell disease, a genetic disorder that primarily affects African-Americans.

Feb. 17, 5-7 p.m.

Reception for the exhibition, “Retrospections: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of A. Quinn Jones” (on display through March 20). Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave. (352-393-8532 or www.gvlculturalaffairs.org)

Feb. 17, 7 p.m.

Behind the Bars: More than Just Music, a discussion of hip-hop music, culture and the links to incarceration in the black community.

Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.

Fashion X-clusive, the largest runway production on UF's campus that showcases the creative skills and talents of students. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 19, 1-4 p.m.

Family Day participants will tour the exhibition "Africa Interweave: Textile Diasporas" and make their own loom and yarn weaving to take home. Harn Museum of Art, Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road.

Feb. 19, 7 p.m.

The 22nd annual Florida Invitational Step Show, historically black Greek-lettered organizers will come from all over the United State to showcase the art of stepping at one of the largest student-run step show productions on the east coast. Stephen O'Connell Center, Gale Lemerand Drive and West University Ave. ( gotfiss.com)

Feb. 20, 6 p.m.

The 2nd Annual Great GATOR Debate Tournament. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m.

Black Male Extravaganza, a theatrical production featuring elaborate dance and song performances and a captivating story line to educate audiences about the rich history and contemporary plights of black males. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

Speaker: Dr. Sherman Jackson, known as one of the most influential Muslims in the world, will discuss Islam in America. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 23, 4 p.m.

“Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years,” a film series that documents the civil rights movement from 1954-1962. Library Partnership, 1130 NE 16th Ave.

Feb. 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

FestivUs, a multi-cultural event celebrating UF's diverse student population through food, music, dance and poetry from a variety of cultural organization on campus. Plaza of the Americas.

Feb. 24, 7 p.m.

A Tasteful Affair, a formal event that will provide students with the opportunity to network with alumni. Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Feb. 24, 4 p.m.

Viewing of Black in America," the award-winning CNN documentary series presents "Black in America Volume 2 — Journey for Change,” chronicling the journey of 30 children in a youth empowerment group who travel from Brooklyn to Africa. Alachua County Headquarters Library, 410 E. University Ave.

Feb. 25, 7 p.m.

"A Night in Harlem: 1925," an event reflecting on the Harlem Renaissance featuring live jazz, spoken word and other performances by students. Rion Ballroom at the Reitz Union.

Feb. 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

13th annual Health Fair, offering free health services including blood glucose testing, HIV testing, immunizations, and vision screening. There will also be a gymnastics bus for the children, face painting, music, giveaways, and free breakfast and lunch. Idylwild Elementary School, 4601 SW 20th Terrace.

Feb. 26, 6 p.m.

Concert (Artist TBA). Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

Feb. 28, 4 p.m.

Black History Month celebration, featuring soul food and a film viewing of, "Eye on the Prize: Ain't Scared of Your Jails," which covers 1960-1961 and "No Easy Walk," which covers 1961-1963. Library Partnership, 1130 NE 16th Ave.

For more information about UF's Black History Month celebration, go to ufblackhistorymonth.com.

Contact Lashonda Stinson Curry at 374-5038 or lashonda.stinson@gvillesun.com.

Cleveland Turner from the Gainesville Guardian contributed to this story.

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