Elms College is planning a lecture, a poetry reading and a film screening to celebrate Black History Month in February 2016.

Black History Month Events - 2016

Elms College is planning a lecture, a poetry reading and a film screening in celebration of Black History Month in February 2016.

Special Events to Celebrate Black History Month

Elms College will celebrate Black History Month with a series of events including a lecture and speaker reception, a poetry reading, and a film screening. Members of the community may attend all of these events; they are free and open to the public.

“Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to promote diversity, love, inclusion, equity, peace, and cultural understanding, and to come together in unity to celebrate cultural diversity at the college,” said Javier Venturi, lecturer in Spanish and the director of diversity and inclusion at Elms College, who coordinated the talk and reception.

“Elms College is committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and equitable campus climate, to help all members of our community better understand the challenges and rewards of living in an increasingly diverse, multicultural and interconnected globalized world,” Venturi added.


Rev. Warren Savage, a lecturer in the religious studies department, will give a talk titled “Be True to Myself” at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, on the first floor of the Alumnae Library. The lecture will be followed by a reception at 1 p.m.

Father Savage, a priest in the Springfield Diocese, is a professor in the permanent diaconate formation and lay ministry program at Elms. He is also the president of Project Reach Out in Westfield, a community-based diversity training and race relations program. Father Savage was a participant in the northeast seminar of the Pastor Theologian Program sponsored by the Center of Theological Inquiry in New Jersey. He is chaplain at Westfield State University, and a member of Spiritual Directors International, Academy of Homiletics and the Society of Christian Spirituality.

He holds a certificate of African studies from the University of Legon in Ghana, West Africa; a bachelor of arts degree from Assumption College in Worcester; and an M.A., S.T.B., degree from Gregorian University in Rome. He also has conducted advanced study at The Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, N.J.

“So often these days, we hear messages that are related only to the world of finance, technology, politics, and celebrities. We need to hear also a meaningful and personalized spiritual message,” Venturi said.

Poetry reading

Poet Jericho Brown will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the Alumnae Library Theater. A reception will precede the event at 7 p.m.

Brown, an associate professor in English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, has received a Whiting Writers Award, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker and The Best American Poetry. His first book, Please, won the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament, won the Anisfield­-Wolf Book Award.

“Jericho's poems talk about important social issues without being didactic. That is a real challenge for any artist functioning in a difficult political climate, but Brown manages with formal skill and grace,” said Dan Chelotti, assistant professor of English at Elms College, who will host the reading. Chelotti also is the director of the Blue House, the college’s new writing center, which is sponsoring this event.

Film screening

Venturi will host a screening of the movie Selma at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 29, in the Alumnae Library Theater.

The Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning film Selma (2014), directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb, is based on the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights marches: In 1965, James Bevel, Hosea Williams, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis set out from Selma, Ala., marching toward the state capital of Montgomery. They were leading more than 600 peaceful protesters; their goal was to demonstrate the need for voting rights in Alabama.

But as the protesters started across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, state troopers halted them with an attack so brutal it became known as Bloody Sunday. Worldwide media coverage, including broadcasts and published photographs of the attack, led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Films are a means of transmission of collective memory, and this film not only functions as an audiovisual mechanism for cultural transmission but also preserves the African-American heritage and cultural identity as well,” Venturi said.