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The Scarlet & Black

CBS reinvigorates Black History Month

Even though Iowa ranks in the top 10 whitest states, according to the US census, Concerned Black Students (CBS) are coordinating the effort to commemorate this year’s Black History Month.

Grinnell College’s history of multi-cultural awareness and social activism attracted some of CBS’s current leaders to the college, but they believe that the student body needs to re-focus on multiculturalism. To re-establish the school’s cognizance of issues long-plaguing Black America, CBS plans to screen films to contextualize blacks at Grinnell and bring up discussion.

“This month we just want to make the campus and the student body at-large more aware of, essentially, [issues] that pertain to blacks,” said Jarrett Joubert ’12, a board member of CBS. “This week, and every week this month, we’re showing a film that has had some influence on Blacks in general.”

Last Monday’s film of choice, “Bamboozled,” known for its controversy, did not attract many students. In fact, less than 10 students, mostly CBS members, showed up for the event. Joubert attributes the low turnout to last minute scheduling change, and believes attendance can spike.

“Bamboozled” (2000), a film written and directed by Spike Lee, satirizes the role of blacks in the modern-day entertainment industry, equating today’s actors to the actors in minstrel shows of the nineteenth century.

Following the film’s showing, Professor Teri Geller of the English Department led a discussion on the film and its larger, social implications. The faculty-led discussion is a crucial component of CBS’s agenda this Black History Month.

“What we want to do this year, in particular, is help students understand and establish new goals for CBS—develop [all] students intellectually, professionally and culturally,” said Charisma Montfort ’11, a board member. “[Following] every film a professor is going to come in and lead a discussion.”

The film series continues on Tuesday with “Amistad” at 4:30 in ARH 102, “Daughters of the Dusk,” Feb.20 at 4:30 in Drake Library and finishes with the biopic “Malcolm X” by Spike Lee on Feb. 24, at 4:30 in ARH 102.

During Black History Month in 1977, CBS helped bring Gil Scott-Heron to the campus, but in recent years the organization‘s potency in commemorating Black History Month decreased over the years, according to some members. The films this month indicate CBS’s return to an active role in Black History Month of the Grinnell educational community.

“Compared to my first two years on campus, this is the most CBS has done for Black History Month,” said Jerl Fields ’11.

Fields donned a CBS Black History Month t-shirt from the 1960s, which said “Civil Rights” on the front and “Time is running out…” on the back.

This February, CBS goes beyond the film reel to commemorate this year’s Black History Month, and works in conjunction with the Asian Student Union (ASU) to reach the Grinnell student body this year.

On the last day of the month, CBS in conjunction with the African Student Union (ASU) scheduled to host a potluck in JRC 209, in the Multicultural Suites. Joubert encourages all members of the community to come, bring a dish and learn about black heritage.

“While the event will be fun and a time to socialize,” Joubert said, “it will also be a time to reflect on the month and outline CBS and ASU’s visions for future Black History Months on campus.”

Celebrating Black History extends past CBS’s effort, this February. Feb. 15 there will be an exhibit shown in Faulconer Gallery at noon, on Feb. 18 the gallery’s curator, Tilly Woodward, will host a talk in the gallery at 7 p.m.

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