Celebrating success

Schoolcraft’s Civil Rights Action Group celebrates MLK Day

By Elaine Gerou
Managing Editor

In a time where many devalue history, the Civil Rights Action Group and Professor Helen Ditouras fight to keep the past alive and have its importance remembered. Leading into Black History Month two events were held on Jan. 22, to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which fell on the Jan.19th.

The first event was held at 11:30 a.m. in the Forum, where Ditouras presented “What’s Going On: The Legacy of Black Power in Popular Culture.” The lecture informed the audience about pop culture involved in the Black Power Movement, which touched on the Black Panther Party and the hip-hop generation/movement.

“The movement inspired the lyrics of popular music such as Marvin Gaye’s concept album, ‘What’s Going On’ and popular music at the time became unofficial ‘anthems’ of the movement, such as James Brown’s ‘Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.’ This relationship was beneficial, in so far as it communicated group solidarity for African Americans and for others who supported the movement,” said Ditouras. “Pop culture still actively speaks to the principles of racial justice and empowerment.  For example, both Alicia Keys and D’Angelo, current R&B artists, released music inspired by Ferguson, Michael Brown and Eric Garner.”

The second event was a film showing and discussion on “The Black Power Mixtape,” which is a 2011 documentary composed of footage shot by Swedish filmmakers to show the evolution to the Black Power Movement in America from 1967 to 1975. The film has many interviews and commentaries from African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, which create a diverse range of perspectives for viewers.

“I think watching films like this is a great way to celebrate [Black History Month],” said Eric Watson, President of the Civil rights Action Group. “If you enjoy reading, pick up a book. Get involved in a way that you personally connect to.”

After the documentary ended, a discussion took place, fielding questions from the audience.

“I think it’s really cool that the college is trying to celebrate Black History Month and Martin Luther King Day in a cool way by showing a movie. It really made it interesting and engaging to learn,” said Schoolcraft student, Nour Al-Janabi, who attended the event.

Not only can learning about history be fun and engaging, Ditouras says it is an investment into one’s understanding of current social movements and their impacts on today’s injustices.

“By learning about these hugely meaningful events during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, we gain a better understanding of things happening today,” said Watson. “A standout scene in the film featured Angela Davis, a remarkable woman whom many people in the audience had never heard of before. There is so much we all can learn from her and people like her. Think about who else we have missed out on.”

No matter how one prefers to celebrate history, Black History Month is a great time to commemorate the past victories of the giant, American melting pot and actively work towards future successes.