Nicholls announces 2017 African-American History Month events

This year’s events are inspired by the national African-American History Month theme: The Crisis in Black Education. All events are FREE and open to the public unless otherwise noted


“I, too, am America” Display
Ellender Memorial Library, First Floor Display Cases
The “I, too, am America” display showcases the numerous contributions African-American scholars have made to education and scholarly endeavors including literature, music, science, medicine, history, art and beyond.

African-American Spotlights
At men’s and women’s basketball games in February
Video spotlights of Nicholls African-Americans athletes will be show on the video board during basketball games, posted on Nicholls Athletics social media outlets and, and aired during the Nicholls athletics show on WHNO.


Opening Keynote: A Town Hall Discussion with Dr. Cleveland Hill: The Crisis in Education
9:40 a.m., LeBijou Theater, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
A visible member of the Nicholls and Thibodaux communities, Dr. Cleveland Hill will host a town hall discussion to kick off the 2017 African-American History Month celebration. In 1968, Hill, a freshman from Moss Point, Mississippi, became the first African-American student-athlete at Nicholls. He finished his playing career in 1972 as the all-time leading scorer with 1,607 points and the all-time leader in rebounds with 1,174. After earning his degree and serving in the military, Hill returned to Nicholls first as an assistant basketball coach then as an education professor, retiring in 2006 as dean of the Nicholls College of Education. Refreshments will be provided by the Student Union.

African-American Themed Cuisine: Shrimp and Okra Gumbo by culinary student Teanna Sandifer
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
Known as one of Louisiana’s most popular dishes, “gumbo” derives from the West African word for okra, the main ingredient. Teanna Sandifer, Nicholls culinary arts senior from Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, will be the guest chef for the African-American themed dish.


SPA Screening of “Hotel Rwanda”
6 p.m., LeBijou Theater, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
The Nicholls Student Programming Association will host a free screening of “Hotel Rwanda” (2004), the story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. Hotel Rwanda has two resonant themes: that one man can make a difference, and more importantly, that we are all our brother’s keeper. Popcorn will be provided.


Discussion of “The Thibodaux Massacre” with Author John DeSantis
6:30 p.m., LeBijou Theater, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
Author and award-winning journalist John DeSantis will discuss his recently published true-crime book “The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike” (2016). Refreshments will be served. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase autographed copies of the book at the event.


African-American Themed Cuisine: Hoppin’ John Stew by culinary student Josh Dimattia
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
A humble dish of black-eyed peas and rice, Hoppin’ John Stew is a New Year’s menu tradition seen by some as a good luck ritual. The dish appears to have originated from slaves in the Low Country of South Carolina. Josh Dimattia, Nicholls culinary arts senior from Independence, Louisiana, will be the guest chef for the African-American themed dish.

RELATE to Education featuring Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley
7:30 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
RELATE to Education is an open-mic event where participants share ideas based on a theme through poetry, storytelling, musical/vocal performance and dance. Hosted by students from the university’s Spoken Word Poetry course, question and answer is held between the performer and audience. Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley, a spoken word artist from Alexandria, Louisiana, and Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam Champion (2016), is the featured performer. Refreshments will be served.


Ellis L. Marsalis Jazz Performance
7 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
Regarded by many as the premier modern jazz pianist in New Orleans, Ellis Marsalis has had an impressive career not only as a performer and composer but also as a leading music educator at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the University of New Orleans and Xavier University. His former students include the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Terence Blanchard and four of his six sons (including Brandford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis) among others.


History of Zulu Presentation
10 a.m., Carnival Room, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
Zulu historian Clarence Becknell will discuss the origins of the organization that has become internationally known for its rich traditions including its most sought-after Mardi Gras throw: the Zulu coconut.

Nicholls Department of Music’s 7th Annual A Festival of the Negro Spiritual Concert Series
7:30 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall • $5 entry fee
The Nicholls Department of Music will host A Festival of the Negro Spiritual Concert Series featuring historical songs once sung by slaves and plantation workers. The music event will feature distinguished guest artists, faculty and students from universities across several states as well as community members. Admission will be $5.


Town Gown Worship Service
7:30 a.m., Morning Star Baptist Church, 101 Brule Guillot Road, Thibodaux
Rev. Larry Frank Sr., pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, will host a Town Gown Worship Service.


NAACP’s Kings and Queens Expo
Noon, Front of Bollinger Memorial Student Union
The Nicholls NAACP chapter will present a visual showcase of the past African Kings and Queens who were influential to African-American culture.


How is Your Heart, Sweetie? Glucose and Blood Sugar Testing by the Nicholls Nursing Department
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Lobby of Bollinger Memorial Student Union
Nicholls nursing students and faculty will provide free screenings for elevated blood pressures and glucose levels.

“One Room School House: The State of the African-American” Presentations
9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Multipurpose Room (third floor), Ellender Memorial Library
A multidisciplinary group of Nicholls faculty and community members will expand and extend the conversation on the national African-American History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education,” through a series of presentations:

  • 9 to 10 a.m. – “The Man Comes Home: Elements of the Russian Pastoral in the Works of Ernest Gaines,” Dr. Lance LaPlante, Visiting Assistant Professor of English – The presentation will examine the influence of writers such as Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky on the neo-pastoral elements in Ernest Gaines’ fiction and reinforced by the writings of the neo-agrarian philosophers Wendell Berry and Leo Marx.  This discussion will examine the African-American experience as reflected in the Russian peasant’s relationship to the land and love of place, usually in spite of the group’s negative relationship with and oppression by the established authorities, and how this relationship is the foundation of all of Gaines’ major works.
  • 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. – “Positive Youth Development Programs and Education,” Anika Keyes Fair, Nicholls Graduate and Community Activist — The founder/executive Director of Leaders of Our Communities will lead a discussion on how the lack of youth development programs and activities in the community can have an effect on education.
  • Noon to 1 p.m. – “Plantation Campus: Memorials to White Supremacy at Nicholls State University,” Dr. Shana Walton, Associate Professor of English, and Farren Clark, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication – This is a short, virtual tour of Nicholls State University, exploring historical naming practices across the campus. We will look at the history of Lafourche Parish plantations and the extent of enslavement, as well as how the slave economy persisted after the Civil War, including the history of lynchings. Our tour will include a look at the plantation whose land became the site for the university. The tour travels across the university to see how the campus became a memorial to plantation and slave culture including the state choosing to name the university itself, buildings and streets after plantation owners, slave traders, Confederate officers and plantations on Bayou Lafourche and the Mississippi River.
  • 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. – “What You May or May Not Know of the Segregated History of Education,” Jennifer Williams Anselmi, Instructor of History
  • 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. – “Health, A Public Concern,” Kayla Guerrero, Nicholls Graduate, Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator for Office of Public Health Region 3
  • 4 to 5 p.m. – “How to Become an Informed Citizen: Maneuvering Through Rules and Regulations,” Thibodaux City Councilwoman Constance Johnson
  • 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. – “Knowing Your Rights with the Police and Law Enforcement Lessons on Citizen Feelings,” Garyland Wallis, Attorney at Law for Wallis Law Firm and Terrebonne Parish Public Defender — Today’s conflicts between police and citizens are being played out in the national media. The interaction between the two is usually due to an imbalance in power; one side suggesting violations in another’s conduct and the other side either protesting that alleged label or feeling verbally assaulted by the show of authoritative tones by the uniformed law enforcer. A better understanding of what rights citizens do have when it concerns the police could possibly be one aide in balancing the power between the two. This conversation is one that gives aide in giving people back some of their power when confronted by the police and instructs the police on what citizens may be wary about when the two confront.


African-American Themed Cuisine: Yassa Chicken by culinary student Tira Griffin
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
One of the most famous African recipes, Yassa Chicken is a traditional dish from Senegal that’s infused with multiple layers of flavor developed from marinating the chicken in an onion sauce. Tira Griffin, Nicholls culinary arts junior from Houma, Louisiana, will be the guest chef for the African-American themed dish.

Sojourner Truth Cantata
6 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
Nicholls faculty members Dr. Valerie Francis, Dr. Michael Bartnick, Dr. Matthew Swihart, Dr. Jason Ladd and Dr. Shane Anderson will share the stories of freedom fighter Sojourner Truth in song and drama.

“A Spiritual Journey” by Pastor David Rhodes
6:30 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
Pastor David Rhodes will lead an evening service.


SGA’s River Road Museum Tour
Noon to 4 p.m., River Road African-American Museum, 406 St. Charles Street, Donaldsonville • Open to Nicholls students only. Students must sign up in the SGA Office by Feb. 10.
The Nicholls Student Government Association will sponsor a free bus trip for students to tour the River Road African-American Museum, a premier facility focusing on the history and heritage of African-Americans along the Mississippi River. The bus will depart from the front of the Student Union at noon and return to campus at 4 p.m. To reserve your spot, call 985.448.4557, visit the SGA Office or email


Creative Writing Reading Series Presents African-American Voices: A Celebration of African-American History Month
6 p.m., Colonels Retreat, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
The Creative Writing Reading Series, organized by the Nicholls Department of Languages and Literature, invites students and faculty to read works pertaining to the theme. An open mic will follow the readings.


African-American Themed Cuisine: Boeuf aux Mangues Sauvages by Sodexo chef Norman Hunt
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
This traditional Central African dish of beef in Ogbono sauce uses wild mango kernels to thicken the tasty stew. Norman Hunt, executive chef at Nicholls Dining Services, will be the lead chef for the African-American themed dish.

NAACP Black History Program
6 p.m., Peltier Auditorium
The Nicholls NAACP chapter will recognize and celebrate the accomplishments, heritage and culture of African-Americans through monologues, poetry and musical performances.