Black History Week

The 12th of the 13 demands  insisted that the university approve and finance an annual Black History Week event. Northeastern’s African American students wanted to use dance, song, art, and fashion to instill African American pride and pay tribute to their ancestors. During the week of February 11-17, 1973, Northeastern’s African American students and African-American Institute sponsored events, including visits to campus by Stokely Carmichael, Ella Collins (Malcolm X’s half-sister), and the Massachusetts Black Political Caucus.

On the second day of Black History Week, Carmichael, known for adopting the phrase “Black Power” and being the Honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party, shared information with students about his stay in Africa. After denouncing the U.S. government’s involvement in the Vietnam War, Carmichael’s passport was confiscated for ten months. When it was returned, he and his wife, South African singer Miriam Makeba, went to Guinea, West Africa. It was during this trip that he wrote the book Stokely Speaks; Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism, (Random House, 1971). He urged Northeastern’s African American students to reject western thought and embrace Africa as their true home. Carmichael informed students that Africa was changing and that they should direct their efforts to aid that change.
Also a part of Black History Week, the Massachusetts Black Political Caucus held a forum at the African-American Institute on the evening of February 15. Caucus members answered questions from approximately 70 students and community members. Caucus members educated the audience about their organization’s mission, committee functions, and their role on specific committees. They shared information on community issues, prison conditions, and how African American students could help. An address by Ella Collins was the last event of Black History Week. Collins advised the university’s African American students to think for themselves and acknowledge the voice within.