Rice celebrates Black History Month with inaugural kickoff event

Black History Month kickoff event

Rice University held its first ever kickoff event for Black History Month Feb. 7 themed “Called to Create: African Americans and the Arts.” More than 200 guests gathered at the Rice Memorial Center’s Grand Hall for an evening of music, dance, guest speakers, food and jubilation.

“We’re celebrating the commencement of Rice University’s Black History Month, which features a slate of diverse events aimed at honoring and learning Black history through the arts,” President Reginald DesRoches said during his welcoming remarks.

“It is important to celebrate Black History Month because it serves as a reminder of the ongoing quest for equality, justice and human dignity. It is a time to reflect on the progress that has been made and highlight the hard work that is left to be done. It underscores the importance of acknowledging and honoring the diverse experiences and contributions of Blacks to the fabric of society.”

A reception beforehand welcomed guests to visit informational booths spotlighting several community partners who hold deep ties to the Black community: the Community Music Center of Houston, the Community Artists’ Collective, the African American History Research Center at the Gregory School, the NAACP Houston Branch and Project Row Houses. 

After the reception, the dynamic programming focused on Black history through the lens of artistic expression.

“It is fitting that we are treated with a showcase here tonight of art as Black History Month also arose and was nurtured in the context of a renaissance of Black art,” said Sherwin K. Bryant, director of Rice’s Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS). “As we contemplate Black history and African and African American futures, let us remember the opportunity at CAAAS for robust thinking across time and space.”

Tamaz Young ’25 from Weiss College emceed the event and introduced guest performers and speakers throughout the evening, which included Amandla Productions, the Rice Black Student Association and the Rice African Student Association. The gathering was also punctuated by a selected reading from Nicole Waligora-Davis, the Alan Dugald McKillop Associate Chair in English, and a performance of “Lift Every Voice” by The Philip Hall Singers as well as a poetic narration by Young.

“Called to Create” was sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Multicultural Community Relations in the Office of Public Affairs.

Black History Month kickoff event
Photos by Jeff Fitlow
Black History Month kickoff eventBlack History Month kickoff eventBlack History Month kickoff eventBlack History Month kickoff event