Feb. 15, 2021 — It’s 1936 and young Opal Pruitt is growing up in Parsons, Georgia where the tension is thick with the Depression, the summer and the Ku Klux Klan.

This is the premise behind “When Stars Rain Down” by award-winning author Angela Jackson-Brown, a rising star in the African American literary community, and a guest speaker Feb. 26 for CSU Channel Islands’ (CSUCI) Broome Library Monthly Recognition Lecture Series.

Each month, the John Spoor Broome Library will welcome a speaker that celebrates a theme from the California Department of Education’s calendar. Jackson-Brown’s presentation honors February as Black History Month. March is National Women’s History Month and April is Poetry Month and Autism Awareness Month, and so on.

A second library lecture series called the Broome Library Black Scholars on Black Lives Lecture Series is also underway featuring Black scholars from CSUCI as well as guest lecturers from across the country. 

“A lot of the research of Black scholars is not published as well as their white counterparts, and many are also looked down upon because they often use research methods that involve interacting with a community and taking real-world action to create change,” said John Spoor Broome Library Head of Instruction, Engagement and Assessment Colleen Harris, Ph.D, Ed.D. “I believe we need to expose the community to the work of Black scholars and their work. That is important to all of us.”

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17, nationally published writer, art librarian/archivist and genealogy curator kYmberly Keeton will present “Collective Relevance: Curating Black Art & History through Independent Archival Praxis.”

The Texas native will speak about her experience curating Black art and history through the “archival praxis,” which means “the practice of archiving.”

“She will talk about rectifying the fact that we have lost so much Black art and history because the dominant group didn’t think it was important enough to save or preserve,” Harris said. “This is about lifting up Black creativity that has been historically under-supported.”

On March 10 at 6 p.m., CSUCIAssistant Professor of English  Raquel Baker, Ph.D. will speak about how science fiction and fantasy has affected the contemporary experience of Blackness in “Speculating Blackness.”

“Health Inequity: An Academic Crisis in America” is the subject of a Tuesday, March 30 lecture at 5:30 p.m. by Associate Professor of Nursing LaSonya Davis, who is a Registered Nurse, a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and holds a doctorate in Nursing Practice.

Davis, who maintains a part-time practice at a low income clinic in Oxnard, is the Inaugural President’s Faculty Leadership Fellow for the 2020/21 academic year in which she works to build an inclusive campus culture. Davis will discuss bias among health care providers and lack of equity when it comes to caring for Black patients.

She will also discuss the history of medical experimentation on Black Americans and how that has resulted in a lack of trust in the medical establishment that still exists today.

The Library’s Notable Emerging Scholar lecture in the Black Scholars on Black Lives series, “Consuming Your Imagination” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14, will be presented by Aria Halliday, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky. She also teaches African American and Africana studies.

Halliday will elaborate on the research she conducted for her book “Beyond Barbie,” which traces the cultural work Black women spearheaded at Mattel, Inc. to create anthropologically correct dolls for Black girls. Halliday specializes in the culture of Black girlhood and womanhood in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The final lecture in the series will be Thursday April 29 at 4 p.m. in which Associate Professor of History Robin Mitchell, Ph.D., will discuss her book “Venus Noire: Black Women & Colonial Fantasies in 19th Century France. The book was named by the African American Intellectual History Society as one of “The Best Black History Books of 2020.”

The series’ first presentation, “When Worlds Collide” by American University library faculty member Derrick Jefferson, was held Feb. 2.  Jefferson spoke about how Black people have navigated systems generally designed for white men, such as academia. The lecture drew audience members from as far away as Canada, Hawaii, Virginia and Florida.

Harris believes this is an ideal time to highlight Black scholars based on the attention drawn to racial inequities by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that swept across the country, and CSUCI’s commitment to inclusivity.

“BLM came out of community movements that just snowballed,” Harris said. “A lot of non-Black folks are surprised at the ferocity of the movement. If they had paid attention at the community level, they would have known this was festering. This series is an opportunity to lift up research done in Black communities. This seems like a perfect time.”

To register for any of the Black Scholars Library Lecture Series, visit: go.csuci.edu/BlackScholars.

To attend any of the Broome Library Monthly Recognition Lecture Series, which begin Feb. 26, visit:  https://library.csuci.edu/about/news/monthly-recognition-lecture-series.htm.

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