On February 19, 1964, legendary Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus at Andrew’s Amphitheater, in front of an overflowing crowd of 10,000 people. King spoke about progress toward desegregation and how supporters were using, “moral means to achieve moral ends.”
Sixty years later, UH is commemorating Black History Month with tributes to historical figures like King, along with panel discussions, exhibits and more (listed below). For many members of UH’s Black community, it’s about recognizing and remembering the adversity their ancestors faced throughout history for the community to thrive today.
February is a way for us to speak truth to power about our history…
“In a country that has continued to deny us and our history, February is a way for us to speak truth to power about our history, and also celebrate the ways that the Black Diaspora community are building futures rooted in liberation and joy,” said Niya Denise McAdoo, a UH Mānoa graduate research assistant in educational administration and co-founder of Sister Circle at UH Mānoa. “There has been a deep-rooted and rich history of solidarity and pilina between the Kanaka ʻŌiwi and Black community since the Hawaiian kingdom outlawed slavery in 1852. Itʻs my hope that we remember and celebrate these legacies not just this month, but all year.”
Among the individuals that will be celebrated is Alice Augusta Ball, who graduated from UH Mānoa in 1915. Ball is the first woman and African American in UH history to earn a master’s degree in chemistry and Black female chemistry instructor, and is credited with discovering the most effective treatment for Hansenʻs disease, at the time.
“Alice Ball’s story is just one great example of incredible brilliance and scientific accomplishment in Hawaiʻi over 100 years ago by a young African American woman that might have been lost if not rediscovered through the passion and diligence within our UH community,” said UH President David Lassner. “Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect openly on our past and celebrate African American achievements to help foster a shared understanding of our history that paves the way for a kinder and more inclusive future for Hawaiʻi.”
UH Mānoa events
- Throughout February: Sister Circle at Mānoa Events. Sister Circle at Mānoa connects and builds community among Black and Indigenous women across campus. Events are scheduled throughout the month. Sign up for their Google Calendar and follow their Instagram page for updates.
- February 3 and 8: Men’s and Women’s Basketball Honor 15 Historical Figures. The UH Mānoa men’s and women’s basketball teams are recognizing 15 significant Black figures of Hawaiʻi. Student-athletes will honor the 15 historical figures in limited-edition warm-up gear featuring the honorees’ names and introduce honorees at the February 3 men’s basketball game and the February 8 women’s basketball game.
- February 15: Movie Night featuring Hidden Figures, 5:30 p.m., Johnson Hall A Lounge. Open to students only. The Alice Ball and Engineering Residential Learning Programs are partnering to celebrate the contribution that Black excellence has made to the engineering world. Learn the stories of Katherine Goble Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan. Free refreshments. For information, email Luffy Threats.
- February 21: Speaking Up Speaking Out Event, 11:30 a.m. in QLCC 113. The Native Hawaiian Student Services presents an enlightening talk story event featuring UH Mānoa law school alumna, Leslee Matthews
- February 28: Honoring Alice Augusta Ball Event and Remembrance Walk, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Sister Circle at Mānoa and the Grad Professional Access Program are hosting the 2nd annual Alice A. Ball Remembrance Walk. This event honors Ball, the university’s first Black graduate, first woman to earn her master’s degree in chemistry and a pioneering scientist who at the age of 23 discovered an effective treatment for Hansen’s disease (leprosy) using oil from the Chaulmoogra tree.The walk will begin at QLCC 412 and will join in UH Mānoa’s Honoring Alice Ball event near the Chaulmoogra tree at Bachman Hall at noon. Speakers will include UH and community members who will pay tribute to Alice Ball.
- February 29: Celebrating Joy During Black History Month, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Campus Center Courtyard. Hosted by the Black Student Association, the event provides students with an opportunity to celebrate the culture, gain exposure to local Black businesses and learn from successful Black people in Hawaiʻi. For more information, follow BSA on Instagram.
- Reflection page: John A. Burns School of Medicine – Health Sciences Library
UH Hilo events
- Throughout February: Black History Exhibit: Moʻokini Library will host an exhibit curated by the UH Hilo History Club, showcasing the rich history of Black individuals and their contributions.
- February 8: Visiting Artist Ashley Cole, 5–6 p.m. in University Classroom Building Room 127. Ashley Cole from Los Angeles will discuss her work, “Repping Abstraction: Interpreting Freedom.”
- February 20: Global Melanated Experience Cultural Event, 4:30–8 p.m., Campus Center Plaza. This event promises to be a vibrant showcase of African-centered art, dance performances, food and discussions on Black history, promoting the diversity of African American and African cultures.
- February 22: Panel Discussion on Black History in the African Diaspora, 6–7:30 p.m., Campus Center Room 301. The discussion will feature speakers addressing various aspects of Black history, from “Maroon Ideas for Present Day Living” to ”The Obscure Identity of Melanated Indigenous People.”
- February 29: History of Gospel Music Experience, 6–8 p.m., Campus Center Plaza. The concert will take the audience on a musical journey from slave ships to the present, featuring soloists, choral works, and small ensembles.
- March 7: Afrofuturism Presentation, 6–7:30 p.m., Campus Center Room 301. UH Hilo Alumni Steve Martin will explore how Afrofuturism has shaped the contemporary world, discussing critical race theory, economics, bioethics, and the impact of artificial intelligence on the Black community.