Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI)

North Foundation Hall, Room 104
318 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309
(location map)
(248) 370-4404

Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m
Wednesdays with extended hours: 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

African American Celebration Month

African American Celebration Month


African American History Month is an annual observance for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February. 

African American History Month had its beginnings in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Woodson created the holiday with the hope that it eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history. 

Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday. Led by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February of 1969 African American History week was expanded from a week to a month. The first celebration of African American History Month occurred at Kent State University in February of 1970. Six years later during the bicentennial (1976), the expansion of Negro History Week to African American History Month was recognized by the U.S. government. 

African-American History Month at Oakland University kicks off each year on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This month long celebration reflects OU’s ongoing commitment to celebrating the historical and cultural contributions that African Americans have made in the past, present and future.


January 19
MLK Day of Service
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
South Foundation Hall

MLK Day of Service is a community wide service project providing Oakland University students, staff members, alumni, and friends the opportunity to volunteer in the name of Martin Luther King Jr and his vision. Tasks include preparing meals for those in need, cleaning up community parks, serving food at local food pantry's, and so much more.

Lunch is provided.

January 21 – February 14

African American Celebration Month Food Drive
Drop off locations include the Center for Multicultural Initiatives and the Gender and Sexuality Center
Proceeds to go toward Oakland University Food Pantry

January 21
27th Annual Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Awards Celebration
Oakland Center, Ballrooms
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Keynote Address, Jeff Johnson

January 21
African American Celebration Month Opening Ceremony
Oakland Center, Pioneer Food Court
1 – 3 p.m.

Join us as we Kick-Off our 2019 African American Celebration Month and pay tribute to African American heritage and culture. Light refreshments will be provided.

January 22
Taboos in the Black Community
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Human Health Building, Room 2045
Hosted by the Black Graduate Student Association and the Association of Black Students  

A Discussion on the Norms of Black Culture and Their Effects on Student Life

January 23

African American Celebration Month Highlight Series: My Journey Here
A part of CMI’s Lunch & Learn Series
Noon – 1 p.m.
Oakland Center, Ambassador B (Room 158)

Featured speaker Dr. Thandi Sule will speak her personal and professional journey to Oakland University.  Through the session, participants will learn more about Dr. Sule and a deeper understanding of a career in academia.  

This session is a part of the Center for Multicultural Initiatives Lunch and Learn Series.

January 29
Soul Steps Showcase
6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Oakland Center, Banquet Rooms A & B
Hosted by: Student Program Board

Stepping is a percussive dance movement that uses the hands, feet, arms, and legs to create polyrhythmic sounds. Beginning as early as the 1920s, African American fraternities and sororities used chants and coordinated movement to express solidarity

Founded in 2005 by dancer, choreographer, and producer Maxine Lyle, Soul Steps is based in New York City, and showcases the African-American dance tradition known as "stepping". Their mission is to expand the presence of stepping throughout the world while creating avenues for cultural exchange and awareness among diverse communities. 

January 30
Queering the Harlem Renaissance
Noon – 2:30 p.m.
Oakland Center, Ambassador Rooms A & B
Hosted by: Gender and Sexuality Center

The Gender and Sexuality Center wants to shine a light on LGBTQIA figures of one of the most important times in African American history, The Harlem Renaissance. We want to give way to the history of marginalized groups by promoting those who have been all but erased from history. The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of African American talent, and many of the brightest voices of the period were on the LGBTQIA spectrum. We will set up a visual exhibit of prevalent people, places, and work by and for LGBTQIA African Americans of the Harlem Renaissance. Information will be alongside these visuals. This exhibit will be open for students to walk through at their own pace and gather information. We will also be asking author and Associate Professor of English at Oakland University Kathleen Pfeiffer, whose research areas focus on African American Literature and the Harlem Renaissance, to give a thirty minute lecture about the topic as well as a Q&A period. We hope to celebrate figures of the African American community both for breaking down barriers and laying the foundation for gay voices in history.

January 30

Uncomfortable Conversations: Police Brutality, Then and Now
7 p.m.
Oakland Center, Lake Superior
Hosted by: Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority, Inc.

This session will discuss the highly controversial issue of police brutality in America. In the session, participants will learn about the constant oppression and violence disproportionately shaking black communities through a panel discussion and presentation. Information will be presented on the history of police brutality as well as the overabundance of police brutality cases right now in America and its effect on African Americans past and present. 

January 31
The Underground Railroad: A Journey through Slavery to Freedom
Noon – 1 p.m.
Kresge Library, Nyberg Room (Room 242)
Hosted by: Kresge Library

OU Libraries have invited Douglas McCray, of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, to speak on the Underground Railroad. Mr. McCray will discuss Harriet Tubman along with other conductors and abolitionists, all of whom fought to end slavery. He will also describe the role Detroit played as a vital city along the Underground Railroad.

February 1
Taste of Africa
4 – 7 p.m.
Oakland Center, Ballrooms

Free & Open to the public
Taste of Africa will Feature African and African-American cuisine, African drumming and spirituals, spoken word performances, and much more!

February 2
Black Alumni Chapter Day at the O’rena
Lunch at 12:30 p.m.
Game begins at 3 p.m.
Oakland Center, Ambassador Rooms (157 & 158)

The Black Alumni Chapter is hosting a student and alumni networking lunch, followed by the OU men's basketball game versus Cleveland State. Alumni participants will share stories of their time at OU through the last six decades and students can speak about the OU of today. Learn from others about how OU has grown and changed over the years and build connections with alumni and students alike. Visit for more information and to register by January 25.

February 5
Know Your Rights
6:30 p.m.
Oakland Center, Ambassador Rooms A & B (157-158)
Hosted by the Association of Black Students

February 7
Black Mental Health Matters
5:30 p.m.
Human Health Building, Room 2045
Hosted by: Black Graduate Student Association

The Black Graduate Student Association would like to introduce Black Mental Health Matters. As African Americans, we faced adversity both in the past and in our current times (i.e., slavery, police brutality, etc.). However, we hardly address how we mentally deal and cope with these adversities. Also, African Americans have been taught not to seek mental health because we are resilient. In this session, we have two doctoral students from the Department of Counseling to discuss the relevance of mental health among African Americans, help-seeking behaviors of mental health among Africa Americans and have an open discussion regarding this topic. 

February 8
Natural Hair Expo
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Oakland Center, Banquet Room A
Hosted by: Oakland University Student Congress, L.O.V.E. Naturally and Association of Black Students

Join LOVE naturally and ABS for a natural hair expo that celebrates black hair and culture.  There will be ton of resources, including DefyAllOdds CEO, Erin Patten, who will talk about self-care and hair treatment. 

February 13
Moving to a Different Beat: Heart Health Awareness
5 – 6:30 p.m.
Human Health Building, Room 4042
Hosted by: School of Health Sciences

The session's objective is to increase participants’ awareness of their heart disease, heart health, and related risk factors. Participants will learn about cardiovascular disease among this racial group, current physical activity recommendations, and everyday activities that can facilitate. Additionally, participants will perform hip-hop dance routines to illustrate further the use of alternative options for performing cardio respiratory fitness.

This event is a part of the African-American Celebration Month festivities at Oakland University which takes place from January 21 - February 14. This month long celebration reflects OU’s ongoing commitment to celebrating the historical and cultural contributions that African Americans have made in the past, present and future.

To see the full schedule of African-American Celebration 2019 events, visit

February 14
Black Women Rock Awards (Closing Ceremony)
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Oakland Center, Gold Rooms B&C

Come celebrate the accomplishments of Black Women from OU’s campus, community and alumn as well as give thanks to the many sponsors and supporters of African American Celebration Month. This event will serve as the Closing Ceremony for the 2019 African American Celebration Month. Light refreshments will be provided.

2019 African American Celebration Month Committee
Kendra Agee
Pre-College Programs

Latasha Curry
Student Business Services

Flavio Di Stefano
Student Program Board
Jewel Fisher
Association of Black Students
Anita Hicks
Oakland Center
Destinee Rule
Oakland University Student Congress

Denise Thompkins-Jones
Center for Multicultural Initiatives

VaNessa Thompson
Center for Multicultural Initiatives

Tiffany Williams
Pre-College Programs

Grace Wojcik
Gender and Sexuality Center

Lawrence Young
Center for Multicultural Initiatives

Christopher Hunter
Center for Multicultural

Sponsored by:

  • Center for Multicultural Initiatives

Co-sponsored by:

  • School of Nursing
  • School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • School of Business Administration
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Oakland University Student Congress