Black History Month lecture series: Straight Outta History


Courtesy of Dr. Andrew Wilczak

The events’ purpose is to bring light to issues of black history.

Wilkes-Barre’s NAACP Branch #2306 is bringing Straight Outta History as a part of the black history month lecture series. Partnering with Wilkes University’s Multicultural Student Coalition, Action Together NEPA, and Sociology professor Dr. Andrew Wilczak to bring three events to campus on Feb. 12, 19 and 26 all held at 6 p.m. at the Ballroom on the second floor of the Henry Student Center.

“Every night has its own purpose,” said Wilczak. “I wanted to try to come up with a diverse number of topics.”

The three events will highlight key aspects of black history that are not focused on in classrooms.

“We want people to come away with different things every night,” said Wilczak.

The first event, on Feb. 12, will feature Wilkes University’s Santana Velez. Velez will hold a discussion about the history of rap and hip-hop music and how the music has impacted American culture. The discussion will cover the importance of black music from songs of slavery sung to secretly communicate between each other. It will also cover the genre of jazz, influential rappers like 2pac, Kendrick Lamar and more.

“Black music has always had this greater political level than a lot of other music in American culture,” said Wilczak. “It’s always drawn attention to social problems.”

“[The purpose] is to foster dialogue, things you can identify and relate to like the hip hop discussion, everyone likes music,” said Geraldine Ojukwu, Junior Political Science major.

On Feb. 19, the event will screen the documentary 13th that focuses on the abuse of the loophole in the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery, with the modern day mass incarceration of the black population.

On Feb. 26, the event will show a biographical drama about a young Thurgood Marshall as a lawyer before becoming a Supreme Court Justice. The story describes the trial where Marshall is representing a black man charged with sexual assault of a white woman.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to shine light on black culture,” said Gianna Brown sophomore criminology and sociology major.

“The whole point of the event is just to bring attention to certain aspects of popular black culture, like music and what is going on with police brutality,” said Ojukwu.

“I think its a cool way for people to get together, have fun, discuss a little watch a little bit of movie and get educated,” added Ojukwu.

“We all think black history month or civil rights and automatically think of MLK. Its superficial; it just allows us to kind of skip over the fact that ‘hey there are other ways we can look at culture, appreciate it, and celebrate it,’” she said.

Wilczak and those sponsoring the event also plan to have voter registration booths to urge people to make a change.

Wilczak has recently found himself driven by injustice and wants those who attend the event to understand they too can make a difference in their community no matter their age.

“I hope that the campus community can come away with a sliver of it, a fraction of what I think about everyday,” he said.