By Joe Montgomery

In commemoration of Black History month, Eastern is holding several events this February that honor African-American studies and their rich history.On Feb. 23, there will be a field trip to the Freedom Center, a museum dedicated to the history of the Underground Railroad and its strife toward freedom for African-Americans in our country.

There will be a ticket price of $10, which will cover transportation, lunch and the entrance into the Freedom Center. Events at the museum include Brothers of the Borderland, a film based on Rev. John Rankin and the letters he sent denouncing slavery upon hearing that his brother acquired a slave in Virginia. The film is shown in an environmental theater, with fog rising from the river and crickets chirping in the distance.

The museum also exhibits a slave pen recovered from Mason County, which was moved from a farm less than 60 miles from the Freedom Center and reassembled for the display. The pen was owned by Capt. John W. Anderson, who quartered slaves in the building before trading them in Natchez, Miss. This exhibit shows a video about the history of the slave pen and also serves as a centerpiece of reflection for the harsh reality of slavery.

On Feb. 26, there will be an AFA Club debate on the topic: “Should Jena Six incidents be the beginning of a new Civil Rights Movement?” The debate will be held in Adams Auditorium in the Wallace Building. The debaters will discuss the issue of the Jena Six incidents, where a group of six black students were charged with the beating of Justin Barker, a white student from Jena High School in Jena, La, on Dec. 4 of 2006. The beating was followed by more incidents throughout the town, one of which was the tying of nooses in a tree after a black student asked permission from a school administrator to sit under the tree.

In Sept. 2007, 10,000-20,000 protesters marched on Jena in what was the considered the largest civil rights movement in years.

There will also be a Chautauqua Lecture beginning Feb. 21 titled: “Ethics in a World of Strangers.” This will be held in the SSB auditorium.

Eastern is hosting many African-American studies throughout the spring semester as well as in February. So go out and immerse yourself in the deep culture and history of the AFA programs being hosted on campus, not only in light of Black History Month, but also in light of their educational experiences.