QCC Celebrates Black History Month

Queensborough Celebrates Black History Month 2024

Black History Month, which began as Negro History Week, was created in 1926 by author and historian Carter G. Woodson. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans and acknowledge the collective struggle of African Americans to gain full citizenship in American society.

“Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.”

— John Lewis, Congressman and Civil Rights Activist

Photo of John Lewis, Congressman and Civil Rights Activist, standing in front of the US Capitol

2024 Black History Month Events

Check back each week for additional events.

Black Film Trivia
Male Resource Center Event
Wednesday, February 7, 2024
 | 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Male Resource Center - Student Union Upper Level, Room 107

Soulful Ventures: Nurturing Black History & Entrepreneurship
ASAP Career Event
Wednesday, February 14, 2024  | 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Online (Zoom)

College Discovery Presents Open Mic in Honor of Black History Month
College Discovery Event
Wednesday, February 14, 2024  | 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Humanities Building, Room-233

Empowering Financial Literacy in the Black and Brown Community
ASAP Career Event
Friday, February 16, 2024  | 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Online (Zoom)

Agents of Change: The Longest Student Strike in US History
ASAP Career Event
Thursday, February 22, 2024  | 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Library Building, Room: LB-29

I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America
ASAP Career Event
Friday, February 23, 2024  | 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Library Building, Room: LB-29

A Black Diaspora Dance Workshop
Male Resource Center Event
Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Male Resource Center - Student Union Upper Level, Room 107

Building Generational Wealth
Male Resource Center Event
Wednesday, February 28, 2024 | 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
Male Resource Center - Student Union Upper Level, Room 107

Black History Month Reception
Wednesday, February 28, 2024 | 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
Administration Building, Fifth Floor

The President's Book Club
Wednesday, February 28, 2024 | 1:30 PM to 2:45 PM (at capacity)
Monday, April 1, 2024 | 2:00 PM to 3:15 PM (sign-up available)
President's Conference Room - Administration Building, Room A502

QMRC and CD Presents: Cultural Wealth
Male Resource Center and College Discovery Event
Thursday, February 29, 2024  | 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Male Resource Center - Student Union Upper Level, Room 107

A Question of Color: The Subconscious World of "Color Consciousness"
ASAP Career Event
Thursday, February 29, 2024 | 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Library Building, Room: LB-29

Equity-focused Initiatives

Queens is one of the most diverse counties in the nation, and Queensborough represents the diversity of the borough. However, at Queensborough, it is more than diversity, it’s cultivating a culture of inclusion and equity in student outcomes. Our Five-Year Strategic Plan centers equity at the forefront of our thinking and planning to create meaningful systemic changes to deliver equal outcomes across all racial and gender groups. Queensborough’s Male Resource Center (MRC) is an example of our commitment to equity-focused initiatives.

The MRC supports the College’s efforts to address equity gaps with men in higher education, specifically Black and Latino men who are disproportionately impacted by opportunity barriers along their academic journey.

Learn more about the MRC

BFSA Black History Moment

Each weekday during Black History Month, the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) will highlight a different person.

The BFSA is a self-regulated group organized independently as the very first affinity group for faculty and staff at Queensborough. To learn more about the BFSA and see other highlights in their Black History Moment series, visit the BFSA website.

Visit the BFSA website

Feb. 1 - Serena Jameka Williams

One of the greatest athletes of all time is 42-year-old Serena Jameka Williams. Raised in Compton, California, Williams was ranked as the number-one singles tennis player eight times between 2002 and 2017. She has won 23 women’s Grand Slam tennis titles and four Olympic gold medals. Off the tennis court, Serena Williams is a successful entrepreneur, with many brand endorsement deals. She runs her own production company, Nine Two Six Productions, has authored a children’s book titled The Adventures of Qai Qai, and founded a fashion line, S by Serena. In April 2015, Serena Williams was the first female African American athlete to grace the cover of fashion magazine Vogue solo. Together with her sister Venus, also a very successful professional tennis player, she had set trends in sports. The sisters have faced unfair judgment in sports because of their fashion choices and their decision to wear their natural hair in braids with beads. Those fashion choices and hairstyles became trends and attracted girls from all over the world to the game of tennis. Since retiring from professional tennis in 2022, Serena Williams has been busy running her companies and raising her two daughters, Olympia and Adira.

Feb. 2 - Ronald Erwin McNair

Ronald McNair was an African American astronaut and the second African American to ever visit space. Originally from Lake City, South Carolina, McNair earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). An avid saxophonist, McNair enjoyed the sciences and went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He applied to NASA and became an astronaut in 1978. In 1984, after six years of training and research, astronaut Ronal McNair visited space for eight days on board the space shuttle Challenger. McNair was selected to fly on the next space shuttle Challenger mission in 1986. The plan was for him to bring his saxophone with him onboard the space shuttle to broadcast a solo from space, making him the first person to perform an intergalactic concert!  Unfortunately, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing McNair and the six other astronauts onboard. In his honor, PS/MS 147 in Cambria Heights, Queens was posthumously named the Ronald McNair School.

Feb. 5 - Alexander Murray Palmer Haley

Alex Haley was an African American author responsible for one of the most-watched television shows in history, Roots. Born in Ithica, New York, in 1921, Alex Haley proudly served in the United States Coast Guard for 20 years. After enlisting in the military in 1939, Haley taught himself how to create, develop, and write stories.  By the time he retired in 1959, Haley had risen to the rank of chief petty officer, working as a military journalist reporting on stories from abroad. As a retired service member, Haley became a senior editor at Reader’s Digest, a popular magazine. Between 1963 and 1965, Haley conducted several in-depth interviews with civil rights leader Malcolm X. Haley turned those interviews into his first book, best seller, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  In 1976, Haley published his novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, and in 1977, he won a special Pulitzer Prize for the book. That same year, the book, a story of a slave, was turned into the eight-episode television mini-series, Roots. The miniseries broke broadcast records with over 130 million Americans watching it on television.  Alex Haley died in 1992 and is buried in Henning, Tennessee.

Feb. 6 - Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley is the first African American artist to paint an official Presidential Portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. That portrait, unveiled in 2018, was of President Barack Obama. Born in Los Angeles, California in 1977 to a Nigerian father and an African American mother, Kehinde Wiley and his twin brother Taiwo had a passion for creating paintings from an early age. Wiley earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and in 2001, an MFA from Yale University. One day, in the spring of 2001, while living in New York City, Wiley found a crumpled-up picture on the ground that turned out to be a mug shot of a young African American man. As he looked at the picture, he reflected upon how men of color are portrayed in art and media. The experience ultimately changed his perceptions of portrait painting.  Wiley is best known for his portraits that portray people of color in settings akin to European paintings of the 1800s. On February 12, 2018, Wiley’s American Presidents portrait of President Obama was unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.  Wiley’s captivating art is included in the collections of over 50 public museums worldwide.

Feb. 7 - Vice President Kamala Devi Harris

Kamala Harris is the first woman, the first African American, and the first South Asian person to hold the office of Vice President of the United States.  Born in Oakland, California, in 1964, to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Harris had an interest in the law from the time she was a child. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Howard University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Washington, DC. Harris then earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1989.  She began her legal career as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California, in 1990. In 2002, after a contentious race, Harris became the first district attorney of color elected in San Francisco.  Harris then set her sights on state-wide office, and in 2010 she was elected Attorney General of California. In 2016, Harris successfully ran for the office of U.S. Senator, and in August 2020, it was announced that she was chosen as running mate to the then-presidential candidate, Joseph Biden. With her family by her side, on January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States.

Feb. 8 - Paul R. Williams

Known as the Architect to the Stars, Paul R. Williams was an African American trailblazer in the world of design. The architect of more than 3,000 structures worldwide, Williams was born in Los Angeles in 1894. With degrees in architecture and engineering, he became the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923. In his 50-year career, Williams designed commercial buildings, lavish homes, and institutional projects. Williams is well known for designing the architecture school at Howard University in Washington, DC, St. Jude Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and the La Concha Motel in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1939, he won the AIA Award of Merit for his design of the Beverly Hills MCA Building. Williams designed over 2000 stately homes for Hollywood movie stars, singers, and wealthy businesspeople, including Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, and Barron Hilton. He brought that same design aesthetic with him when he co-designed Langston Terrace, the first federally funded public housing project, and the 28th Street YMCA in South Los Angeles, which, because of Jim Crow segregation laws, was built with separate facilities. Williams died on January 23, 1980, leaving behind a wealth of buildings to inspire the next generation of architects.

Feb. 9 - Betty Smith Williams, DrPH, RN

Dr. Betty Smith Williams is an African American nurse, and professor, who has dedicated her career to advancing opportunities for nurses of color. After earning her bachelor’s degree in zoology from Howard University in Washington, DC, in 1954, Williams went on to become the first African American to graduate with a doctorate in nursing from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. She then moved to California for greater opportunity. In 1956, Williams became the first African American to teach at the college level in California when she began her career as an instructor of public health nursing at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Since then, she has served as a professor and dean at many universities throughout the country. In 1971, with the goal of uniting African American nurses throughout the country, Dr. Williams co-founded the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA).  NBNA helped to create opportunities for African American nurses and to bring awareness to health issues that plague minority communities. Williams served as NBNA president from 1995 to 1999. In 2010, Dr, Williams was recognized with the Living Legend Award by the American Academy of Nursing. Today, she serves as professor emeritus at California State University, Long Beach.

Feb. 12 - Savion Glover

Savion Glover is an African American master tap dancer and choreographer who has introduced a new generation to the rhythmic moves and rich history of tap dance.  Described as “Possibly the best tap dancer that ever lived” by tap dancer and teacher extraordinaire Gregory Hines, Savion Glover was born in Newark, NJ in 1971. Glover started taking tap dance lessons when he was seven years old, and by the time he turned eleven, he landed the role of understudy for the lead in the popular Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid. By 1984, Glover replaced the star of the show, and the world of tap dance would never be the same. Glover went on to earn a Tony Award nomination in 1985 for his role in the musical Black and Blue. In 1996, Glover received another Tony nomination for his role in Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk which he also choreographed.  In between Broadway shows, Savion Glover appeared in seven films and has made dozens of television appearances. Glover’s funky tap dance style has reignited the love for the dance form that has its roots in African American history. Savion Glover continues to bring his unique, animated tap style to audiences worldwide.

Feb. 13 - Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an African American astronomer who, through his infectious enthusiasm for space, has made the study of the stars and the universe accessible to everyday people.  Born in New York City in 1958, deGrasse Tyson’s mom would buy him used books about space to encourage his curiosity. By the time he was old enough to walk dogs for the neighbors in his apartment building, deGrasse Tyson set out saving up for his first telescope so he could see the stars up close. He graduated from Harvard University in 1980 and from the University of Texas at Austin, earning a master’s degree in astronomy in 1983. By 1989, DeGrasse Tyson graduated from Columbia University, with an MPhil (Master of Philosophy) degree in astrophysics, and then a PhD degree in astrophysics in 1991. Dr. deGrasse Tyson has conducted research into some of the most perplexing questions about outer space. He regularly appears on social media and television to talk about the newest discoveries in the universe. His informal but intellectual style of speaking and lecturing makes learning about space interesting and fun for everyone. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson has authored over 30 books about space and lectures all over the country, sharing his love for the cosmos with his audiences.

Feb. 14 - Gayle King

Gayle King is an exceptional African American broadcaster, journalist, and author who has changed the face of morning television, interviewing some of the most influential and interesting people in the world. Born in Chevy Chase, Maryland in 1954, King earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. In her career, Gayle King started at the very bottom, when she took a job as a production assistant at local TV station WJZ-TV. At that Baltimore station, she met another young reporter named Oprah Winfrey and the two became best friends. King worked her way up, she trained to become a news reporter, and then a general assignment reporter. After many years of hard work, King landed a job as a news anchor at WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut. In 2011, Gayle King was hired to anchor CBS This Morning, cementing the presence of African Americans on morning television. A very overscheduled woman, King cohosts King Charles on CNN as well as her own SiriusXM radio show Gayle King in the House, and she has appeared in over nine movies. Gayle King is a proud mom of two adult children and grandmother to her favorite (and only) grandson, Luca.

Feb. 15 - Byron Allen

African American comedian and producer Byron Allen just might be one of the least-known multimillionaires. Sitting at the helm of the first black-owned multiplatform media studio, Allen came from humble beginnings. Born in 1961 in Detroit, Michigan, Allen developed a love for comedy, performing his stand-up routines for friends in high school. When he took to the stage at eighteen, Allen became the youngest comedian to ever perform on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. While Allen took acting roles and went on the road with concert tours, he started his own production company, CF Entertainment in 1993. Allen produced inexpensive television shows and made money through advertising. His business venture was not initially successful, and Allen almost lost everything financially. He persevered. In 2003, the company was renamed Entertainment Studios and he started producing situation comedies and dramas for TV. He began making money and reinvested in his company. In 2016, Entertainment Studios purchased the African American media provider TheGrio, and in 2018, Entertainment Studios acquired The Weather Channel. In 2019, Allen formed Allen Media Broadcasting which is valued at over $5 billion. Byron Allen and his wife Jennifer are philanthropists, who have a commitment to diversity in media and broadcasting.

Feb. 16 - Constance Baker Motley

It can be very intimidating to be the first to do something, to be a trailblazer when you have no mentors, and no role models to learn from. Judge Constance Baker Motley was no stranger to being a trailblazer, rising to become the first female African American Federal Judge in the United States. Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1921, Motley developed an interest in the law as a child. After high school, she became involved in her community and took a job, as she did not have the money to attend college. Clarence W. Blakeslee, a wealthy philanthropist, heard her speak at a rally and gifted Motley tuition so she could attend college. Motley graduated from New York University in 1943 and Columbia University School of Law in 1946. In 1964, Motley became the first African American woman to be elected to the New York State Senate. In 1965, she was chosen as Manhattan Borough President, again the first Black woman to hold that position. Motley was then nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to ascend to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Constance Baker Motley then made history again, becoming the first female African American Federal Judge.

Feb. 19 - Amanda Gorman

When poet Amanda Gorman imagined her life, could she picture becoming the youngest poet to ever present an original work at the inauguration of an American President? At age 22, that is exactly what Amanda Gorman achieved when she delivered her poem, The Hill We Climb outdoors to a considerable crowd on a cold day in January 2021. Before she was tapped to speak at President Joseph Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, Amanda Gorman was a young woman originally from Los Angeles, California. As a child, Gorman was diagnosed with a speech impediment and directed her efforts toward writing and reading. She saw her disability as a gift, once stating that she, “Always saw it as a strength because since I was experiencing these obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, I became really good at reading and writing.” After high school, Gorman attended Harvard University, where, in 2017, she became the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate, for her exceptional written works. Gorman graduated with honors in 2020 and has written four bestselling books and several compelling articles. Today, Amanda Gorman continues to write, calling out injustice, inequality, and ignorance through her works.

Feb. 20 - Daniel R. Day

Daniel R. Day, also known as Dapper Dan, is an African American clothing designer and tailor who influenced hip-hop fashion and streetwear style. Before he became known as Dapper Dan, Daniel R. Day was born in Harlem, New York in 1944. Day grew up watching his mother sew clothes for the family and sketch designs. In 1982, Day, now going by his nickname Dapper Dan, opened a clothing store on 125th Street in Harlem. Dapper Dan Boutique became THE clothing retailer for African American athletes, actors, and most especially, hip-hop artists. In 1987, former Queensborough Community College students Cheryl James and Sandra Denton were styled by Dapper Dan as members of the Grammy-nominated group Salt-N-Pepa for their award-winning single Push It. Dapper Dan reimagined the patterns and shapes of high-end designers, reinterpreting them with street flair. Although Dan’s elevated designs were cutting-edge, influencing generations of African American fashion, he used the logo brands of other designers without their permission.  Dan was sued for copyright infringement and forced to close his Harlem boutique.  Today, Dapper Dan works with luxury brand Gucci designing opulent clothing out of his new store, Dapper Dan Atelier in Harlem. His book, Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir is a New York Times bestseller, and his unique streetwear designs have beendisplayed at the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and London’s Design Museum.

Feb. 21 - Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin was a master organizer who coordinated the historic March on Washington and fought for civil rights for African Americans and the LGBTQ+ community.  Born in 1912, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and raised in the Quaker religion, Bayard Rustin attended City College of New York/CUNY. In 1941, Rustin became active in the movement to end racial discrimination. Raised with Quaker values, Rustin believed in non-violent resistance, opting to show opposition to discrimination using sit-ins, protests, and boycotts. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was influenced by Rustin ‘s views on non-violence and adopted them. In 1953, as was the law at the time, Rustin was arrested for being gay and served 50 days in jail.  After his arrest, Rustin was outed as a gay man. In 1963, Bayard Rustin organized the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Rustin did not seek the spotlight while coordinating the March as he did not want the focus to be on his personal life as a gay man, he wanted the focus instead to be on the struggle for civil rights. Due in part to his efforts, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Bayard Rustin died in 1987, leaving a legacy of service to the movement for human rights.

Feb. 22 - National Museum of African American History & Culture

On September 24, 2016, the only national museum dedicated to documenting and celebrating African American history and culture opened in Washington, DC. The National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian’s group of renowned museums, was planned for decades. The idea for the museum first crossed President Calvin Coolidge’s desk in 1929, when he signed a law creating a commission for the museum. Unfortunately, because of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, funding for the project was not available. The Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 60s reignited interest in the museum. In 1988, Representative John Lewis introduced a Congressional bill to create the museum, and in 2001 the Plan for Action Presidential Commission was established to determine the site location and feasibility of the museum.  On February 22, 2012, ground was broken for the museum. The museum’s exterior design features an intricate “Corona” or sun-like pattern made of aluminum in a bronze color that, “Draws on imagery from both African and American History, reaching toward the sky in an expression of faith, hope and resiliency.” Today, the museum houses over 40,000 works including a family genealogy center and the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts. Admission to The National Museum of African American History and Culture is free to all.

Feb. 23 - Carla Hall

Carla Hall is an African American chef, author, and TV personality who celebrates and interprets her traditional Black soul food roots for a new generation of diners. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1964, Hall attended Howard University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Washington, DC, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting.  After graduation, she became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and found that she did not like her job! Looking for a change, Hall went to live with friends in their crowded Paris apartment. In Paris, France, she found work as a model and discovered her love for cooking. When she returned to Washington, DC, Hall enrolled in culinary school and started a sandwich delivery service called The Lunch Bunch.  In 2001, Hall started her catering business, Alchemy Caterers in Maryland and in 2008, she auditioned and won a spot on the reality show Top Chef. Although she did not win the reality show competition, her southern cooking and philosophy of “cooking with love” resonated with audiences. Since then, Hall has cohosted countless cooking shows and authored three cookbooks. In 2021, Carla Hall published her first children’s book, Carla and the Christmas Cornbread about a closely-knit African American family and their tradition of making cornbread.

Campus Cultural Centers

Kupferberg Holocaust Center exterior lit up at nightOpens in a new window
Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

The KHC uses the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.

Russian Ballet performing at the Queensborough Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window
QPAC: Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window

QPAC is an invaluable entertainment company in this region with a growing national reputation. The arts at QPAC continues to play a vital role in transforming lives and building stronger communities.

Queensborough Art Gallery exterior in the afternoonOpens in a new window
QCC Art Gallery

The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York is a vital educational and cultural resource for Queensborough Community College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities.