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New Mexico State University presents Black History Month

New Mexico State University's Black Programs will celebrate Black History Month in February with a variety of activities and guest speakers focusing on the contributions made by black people throughout history.


"This month is basically about giving respect to those people who were trailblazers before us," said Troy Franklin, director of Black Programs. "Without them, we would not be where we are today."

The featured event for the month is Clara Belle Williams Day on Sunday, Feb. 13. Williams was the first black graduate of NMSU, earning her bachelor's degree in 1937 when the university was known as New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

The day will begin with the Clara Belle Williams Awards Ceremony for Outstanding Black Scholars at 1 p.m. in the Corbett Center Auditorium. A grandson of Williams, Dr. James Williams II, will be the keynote speaker for the event, which also will include a performance by the NMSU Gospel Ensemble.

At 3 p.m., the NMSU English Building will be renamed and dedicated as Clara Belle Williams Hall.

The Clara Belle Williams Retrospective, a special exhibition, will open in the Corbett Center Art Gallery at 4 p.m., along with an exhibition on the African-American Community of Las Cruces, 1900-1956. Several of Williams' family members will be present for the opening.

"I admire the strength and persistence this woman had to make it at a time of such persecution," Franklin said. "The main thing we should take away from her is the fact that she valued education so much and passed that core value on to her sons and her family. She not only stated what she believed, she lived what she believed."

Other highlights of Black History Month, presented by the NMSU Black Programs Office, include:
? Taos Restaurant will serve soul food all day on Feb. 1. A student ID is needed; otherwise tickets are $7.
? "Race and Racism in the New Millennium," a presentation by University of New Mexico Professor Sherri Burr, 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, Corbett Center Room 210.
? Movie, "Lean on Me," 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, Corbett Center Auditorium.
? "Minority Farmers' Role in Today's Economy," a presentation by Marcus Tillery, dean of the School of Applied Science and Technology at Thomas Edison State University, 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, Gerald Thomas Hall Auditorium.
? Movie "Chisholm," 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, Corbett Center Auditorium.
? Talent Show, 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, Hardman Hall Room 106.
? "Experience NMSU," sponsored by Black Programs and the Admissions Office, brings black high school juniors and senior to campus, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21.
? "Black Women's Role in New Mexico's History," a presentation by poet and playwright Maisha Baton, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, Corbett Center Dona Ana Room.
? Cheo Coker, co-author of "Unbelievable: The Life, Death and After-Life of the Notorious B.I.G.," will talk about his career as a hip-hop journalist and Hollywood screenwriter, 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 28, Corbett Center Room 210.
? Movie "Malcolm X," 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, Corbett Center Auditorium.