"Black Her-story Month" is underway at SUNY Oswego -- putting the focus on black women in leadership roles from the civil rights movement to the present -- with several signature events still to come as the college's Black Student Union celebrates its 51st year.

The theme for this year's Black History Month arose from the nine members of the Black Student Union executive board -- all women -- said the organization's vice president, Michaela Williams, who is a senior majoring in human development.

"We decided to highlight women of color, because they don't always get the recognition they deserve," Williams said.

Some of Williams' personal role models -- besides her mother at No. 1 -- are author and activist Sister Souljah, who wrote "The Coldest Winter Ever" and other influential books; Stacey Patton, who writes about traumatized children in "Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won't Save Black America"; and Black Panther Party pioneers Elaine Brown and the late Afeni Shakur.

Presentations this month have or will include "Black, Missing & Ignored," "Girls' Night Out" and, hosted by BSU President Tenaja Smith-Butler, "Ebony," about the demeaning of black women and their bodies.

In a month full of "Black Her-story" talks, performances, and scholarly presentations by students of color, several major events remain. Two have admission fees; tickets are available at SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 315-312-3073.

  • The annual BSU Variety Show, hosted by social media comedian Kapri Hernandez, who has been uploading his routines to Instagram since 2013. Performances will feature dancing, rapping, stepping and modeling, Williams said. The show will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in Hewitt ballroom. Tickets are $12 ($8 for SUNY Oswego students with current ID; $10 for faculty and staff).
  • The 51st annual BSU Dinner. Starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, in Hewitt ballroom, the gala will feature African Student Organization dancers, the Latin Student Union's Ritmo dancers, the Vocal Effect show choir, the Gospel Choir and spoken-word poets, according to Williams. Patricia Clark, interim dean of Oswego's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will keynote the banquet, Williams said. Tickets are $15 ($9 for SUNY Oswego students with current ID; $13 for faculty, staff, alumni, youths and people over 62).
  • Black Appreciation, a potluck for student organizations on campus, featuring cuisine where those attending can "get a feeling of home." It will take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Marano Campus Center food and activity court.

Williams said she hopes anyone attending events during the month will come away with a fresh perspective. "The issues we are facing as black people and as black women are not just our problems," she said. "There are issues that are bigger than just us. It will take more than just one body of people to combat injustice."

Besides Williams and Smith-Butler, the BSU's e-board this year includes directors Imani Tate, correspondence; Lorenne Huaman, archives; Anisha Melton, marketing; Kayla Biles, finance; Lauren Robinson, programming; Ma'Qusi Modeste, social media; and committee leader Arlene Lindo.

Contact the Black Student Union at bsu@oswego.edu for more information.