Luther College pays tribute to James Baldwin during Black History Month

January 27, 2021

Luther College has events planned throughout the month of February to encourage everyone to celebrate the work and achievements of people of color during Black History Month. Viewing information and links to attend all of the live, virtual events can be found on Luther's online events calendar at

This year's events feature author and activist James Baldwin. Through film showings, lectures, discussions and performances, audience members will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge about the struggles and hardships that came and still come from being Black in America and gain a historical perspective that can be used to better understand recent events.

"As a novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, film critic, civil rights activist and openly gay black man, James Baldwin was an intellectual giant whose work spoke with eloquence and piercing insight about America's racial landscape in the second half of the 20th century," said Novian Whitsitt, professor of Africana studies and English at Luther College. "His career, which spanned four decades, offers us a trove of revelations that hauntingly speaks to much of our current racial climate."

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, all are invited to attend the virtual screening of, "James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket." In this film, Baldwin tells his own story and speaks to what it means to be born Black, impoverished, gay and gifted in a world that that is so vastly separated. This event will be followed by a virtual discussion at 4:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. Led by Whitsitt and Amy Weldon, professor of English, "How James Baldwin's Ideas Speak to Today's America'' will explore the thoughts of Baldwin and how they relate to current events.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, actor and author Keith Hamilton Cobb will virtually present several monologues from the critically acclaimed play "American Moor." Cobb wrote "American Moor" to tell the story of a Black actor auditioning for Shakespeare's "Othello." It explores how narratives can shape both individuals and nations. Cobb will also hold a discussion and Q&A about Blackness, Shakespeare and the demands of truly listening to one another. Immediately after that event, at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Marques Garrett, assistant professor of music in choral activities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will give a lecture titled "The Multifaceted Approach to Active Inclusivity." The lecture will focus on anti-racism policies and the curriculum in higher education music departments.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, join the virtual lecture and discussion of "How I Left the Interfaith Movement and Found Interfaith Solidarity." Dr. Edward Curtis, Millennium Chair of the Liberal Arts and professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, will give the lecture and invite conversation on the broader theme of interfaith activism in light of his own disappointing discoveries about corporate and foundation-funded interfaith movements in the United States. He will also address how these discoveries ultimately opened the way for him to focus more of his energy on Black, Muslim and Palestinian liberation.

The film "I Am Not Your Negro" will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25. Based on Baldwin's unfinished book, this film explores his writings and TV appearances and examines racism through the stories of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

James Baldwin is most known for works including "Notes of a Native Son," "The Fire Next Time" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain." He frequently wrote about the pain and struggle of Black Americans and the saving power of brotherhood.

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