The University celebrates with a month of entertainment and education
Adam Grybowski

Programs center on the theme “Reflecting on the past and building for the future.”

Rider University will celebrate Black History Month with a round of programming in February that centers on the theme “Reflecting on the past and building for the future.” All events are free, open to the entire Rider community and sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs in conjunction with the Black Student Union.

“We’re celebrating Black History Month by reflecting on the past generations of African Americans who, through their strife and struggles, made us aware of the price of freedom in America,” says Pamela Pruitt, Rider’s director of Multicultural Affairs. “We can now appreciate and experience opportunities that exist today as we continue to hope for even greater possibilities in the future. We must also remember that African Americans and other cultural groups should celebrate who they are every day.”

Keynote speaker Bruce George is co-founder of Def Poetry Jam, the spinoff ofDef Comedy Jam, as well as an author, activist and entrepreneur. Hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons produced Def Poetry Jam for HBO, which featured spoken word poets performing their original poems. George will speak Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Sweigart Auditorium. “He will present an inspirational speech about success and the way that you view success,” says Theresa Hughes ’14, president of the Black Student Union.

Entertainment will include a Black History Month Talent Show (Feb. 18, 7 p.m.), a night of singing, dancing and poetry, and Gospel Fest (Feb. 23, 5 p.m.), an evening of praise, music and worship. Students will also present creative interpretations of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I Have a Dream Speech Competition (Feb. 25, 7 p.m.) 

Two movies will be shown, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Lee Daniel’s The Butler. Tarantino sets his violent travelogue in the years before the Civil War, as a former slave (Jamie Foxx) attempts to rescue his wife from a Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Taking place a century afterDjangoThe Butler follows Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) through a lifetime of serving eight U.S. presidents.

Entertainment will commingle and give way to education during several events. Black History Month Jeopardy (Feb. 11, 7 p.m.) will challenge players’ knowledge of black history and a lecture (Feb. 13) will explore a document called the Willie Lynch Letter that claims to be an authentic account of a slave owner’s speech from the 18th century. The Divine Nine Greek Organizations will discuss the history of their organizations as well as changes seen in the last century during Greek Organizations Round Table (Feb. 20, 7 p.m.)

A Martin Luther King Day of Service will be held on Feb. 21.

“We hope to inspire the campus community through our programming,” Hughes says. “Black History Month is a great chance for students and faculty of all races and ethnicities to learn about the African American community.”

Editor’s note: There will also be an event sponsored by the Office of Campus Life for Martin Luther King Day. An MLK Day Service Fair will be held Monday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the SRC Atrium. Faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in on-site service activities that will address issues of hunger, homelessness and poverty in the local community. This is the University’s first MLK Day Service Fair and will feature activities such as making blankets for the homeless, sandwiches for the hungry and tutoring tools for children. Questions should be directed at the Office of Campus Life by calling 609-896-5327.


This is the full schedule of events:

Keynote Speaker: Bruce George

Feb. 6, 7 p.m., Sweigart Auditorium

Bruce George is the co-founder of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. As a Peabody Award Winner he is a visionary, executive producer, writer, poet and activist.


Film Screening: Django Unchained

Feb. 10, 7 p.m., Memorial Hall

Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django is a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz, who helps him rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio


Black History Month Jeopardy

Feb. 11, 7 p.m., North Hall 129

Test your knowledge of African American history through a friendly quiz game.


Discussion of the Willie Lynch Letter

Feb. 13, 7 p.m., North Hall 129

We will explore the history of the Willie Lynch letters and its impact on slavery in the United States.


Black History Month Talent Show

Feb. 18, 7 p.m., Sweigart Auditorium

The Black History month talent show will be a night of singing, dancing, poetry and other forms of entertainment. This is an event that will be co-sponsored with the Front Row Step Team.


Greek Organizations Round Table

Feb. 20, 7 p.m., Sweigart Auditorium

Join us in a round table discussion with the Divine Nine Greek Organizations as they discuss the history of their organizations as well as changes seen in the last century.


Martin Luther King Day of Service

Feb. 21

For more information, contact Jane Sanchez at [email protected].


Gospel Fest

Feb. 23, 5 p.m., BLC Cavalla Room

Enjoy an evening of praise, music, and worship.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I Have a Dream Speech Competition

Feb. 25, 7 p.m., Mercer Room

Students will present their own I Have a Dream speech in a variety of creative ways in regards to civil rights.


Film Screening: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Feb. 26, 7 p.m., Memorial Hall

As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.

Director: Lee Daniels

Stars: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack