Cal Lutheran celebrates Black History Month


Photo by Jazzy Colbert

A Black History Month banner acts as a bold backdrop to the Gumby statue by Cal Lutheran’s Pearson Library. “Black History Month… is calling us to something greater than the optics of black history,” Rev. Scott said at the first weekly Black History Month Chapel Worship Service on Feb. 2 at Samuelson Chapel.

Jazzy Colbert, Reporter

California Lutheran University’s Black History Month events this year range from liturgies and lectures to a Los Angeles excursion. 

These celebrations, with the theme of Black Resistance, are co-sponsored by the Office of Talent, Culture and Diversity, and the Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion, which are in partnership with Mission and Identity. 

“While I’m grateful for the observance, I think that it goes much deeper than the month. It must be lived. Historically, Black people have been intentionally unseen. When we celebrate the progress but also are educated in terms of not repeating the history, it calls us to action to proactively really do something that will heal the historical wounds that are often covered up with bandaids of optics,” Cal Lutheran’s University Pastor Rev. Scott Hamilton Adams said.

Adams noted the significance of when students show up to the Black History Month events.

“That’s what community is… taking what you receive from being there and using the knowledge you gained to promote the greater good of everybody,” Adams said.

Adams said that during the recent chapel services, Campus Ministry has been focusing on tying faith and Black History Month together. 

“After each worship, we have food and fellowship after. That is something very important to African-American spirituality,” Adams said.

Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, a reverend on campus, said that on Jan. 17, Cal Lutheran hosted the screening of the 43rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Commemorations Worship Service, with the theme ‘One In The Spirit.’ 

According to Maxwell-Doherty, the service included prayers, scripture and footage from the time of Martin Luther King put together by Los Angeles filmmaker Lamont Pete, and featured musicians from all across the world including Cal Lutheran students. The event was sponsored by the African Descent Lutheran Association, Los Angeles and the virtual service can be found here

Rev. Scott said that Cal Lutheran’s recent Jan. 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel Worship Service featured some of King’s favorite traditional hymns including “Lift Every Voice and Sing”  and “Precious Lord.” 

To commemorate and celebrate King’s life, Adams said that his sermon was “grounded in a sermon that [Dr. King] preached called ‘A Knock At Midnight.’” The podcast of the service can be found here.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, Cal Lutheran began its weekly Black History Month Chapel Worship Services at 11:25 a.m. at Samuelson Chapel, where, according to Adams, African American music ministers will be visiting every week from the greater Los Angeles area. 

“It’s critical that we don’t erase the historical narratives that really show the world how the black community has impacted this society in very profound ways,” Adams said.

A Black History Month reading group circle will be held on Tuesdays in February from 11:25 a.m.-12:25 p.m. at Ullman Conference Center 103. According to Maxwell-Doherty, the group will be reading mystic and theologian Howard Thurman’s book “Jesus and The Disinherited.” 

Adams said that the Black History Month Lecture Lunch on Thursday, Feb. 23 from 12:30-2 p.m. at the Samuelson Chapel Narthex will have Terra N. Hall, Ph.D., to address topics around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Attendees will be discussing “The Courage of Belonging: Proactively Pressing Towards the Mark of the High Calling of Beloved Community.”

Beginning Feb. 3, students can attend Sodexo’s ‘Soul Food Fridays’ every Friday this month.

According to the Black History Month Events flier attached to a January 13th campus-wide email Soulfest will be on Friday, Feb. 17 from 6-9 p.m. at Kingsmen Park, featuring black-owned businesses, performances and food.

“A Discussion of Undocumented Black Students” will occur on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 3:30 p.m. at the Swenson Center for Social and Behavioral Sciences 101/102. This event will highlight the findings of Felecia Russell in her “qualitative study” about “the experiences of 15 undocumented Black college students.”

Rakaihya Thomas, president of the Black Student Union and president of Sisters’ Circle, wrote in an email interview that BSU plans to table this February with the theme of how media shapes and affects those in marginalized communities–specifically the black community.

The Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion will be hosting the Black Storytelling in Film: “Nope” Screening and Discussion on Thursday, Feb. 9 from 5-8 p.m. at the chapel. 

Bryan Salazar Pazmino, coordinator of CCEI, said that the entryway of the screening will include panels depicting the history of black representation to create the discussion through art.

“It is important to get more black voices and black creators telling their own stories. Most of the time, media paints a picture of what a community is like or it might create some stereotypes that might not represent what the community is. Jordan Peele is able to take initiative of the narrative itself,” Pazmino said.

Cal Lutheran will be hosting the Black History & Culture: Los Angeles Excursion on Sunday, Feb. 26 from 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. where students can travel via provided transportation to three locations in the Los Angeles area. 

“The California African American Museum touches on… what it [means] to embrace our identity,” Pazmino said. 

The second stop on the excursion will be “Black on the Block,” which is a community supporting black-owned businesses.

Lastly, the third stop is a futuristic art exhibit at the Decade of Dimensions Art Show.

“We wanted to highlight spaces where black excellence can be seen and heard and create more of that welcoming environment to different communities,” Pazmino said.

The Alexander Twilight Legacy of Black Excellence, on the first floor of the student union, is a designated space for underrepresented communities on campus to build a home away from home.

Sloan Sanders, Cal Lutheran alum, said in a Zoom interview that her recent project for the Community Scholars For Black Lives Fellowship Program has been developing the Cal Lutheran American & Moore 21-Racial Equity Habit Challenge to be available for Cal Lutheran students to participate in regularly. 

Sanders created a pallet based on the challenge being utilized at other institutions.

Sanders said that if people want to develop their own or someone else’s project idea, they can connect with a community member at the Community Scholars for Black Lives Fellowship Program Mixer on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 4-5 p.m. at the Student Union outside the Twilight Center. 

“We hope that [students] can learn about Allyship… and stretch out a light to those in desperate need–the ones who are involved in the POC and Black community,” Thomas said.