Fourth Annual 44 Days Honoring Black History Celebration Begins

“Keep exploring. Keep dreaming. Keep asking why. Don’t settle for what you already know. Never stop believing in the power of your ideas, your imagination, your hard work to change the world.” —Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States.

Four years ago, Saint Mary’s College and the Black Lives Matter Subcommittee of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence committed to celebrate Black history for 44 days—paying homage to Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th commander in chief and first African American president. His legacy and leadership embraced the audacious hope of promoting a more inclusive nation that celebrated people from all walks of life, ethnicities and cultures. In keeping with that spirit, the 44 Days Honoring Black History annual celebration honors Black excellence, history, achievement, and the rich contributions of Black culture to the Saint Mary’s community, the nation, and the world.

This year’s theme, 44 Days: Telling Our Own Stories, celebrates the historical legacy of Black families gathering to share the stories of their ancestors, elders, and community predecessors. Founded on West African tradition, the family or community Griot (storyteller), is a repository for stories, songs, poems, and music that is passed along the generations to preserve genealogies and celebrate African culture.

The “virtual” 44 Days Celebration, is being held from Feb. 8 to Mar. 23, starting with a Black Student Convocation entitled “Joy, Fun, Community,” on Feb. 13. Scheduled signature events include prolific speakers, dynamic workshops, engaging discussions, and a host of meaningful programs that will address topics including Black mental health; activism and advocacy; coded bias and facial recognition technology; Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church, and more. The 44 Days website provides a detailed calendar of programs and events.

Angela Rye, acclaimed journalist, CNN political commentator, and NPR political analyst is the 44 Days keynote speaker. Respected as an influential political strategist, Rye also served as executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress.

“During 44 Days Honoring Black History, we are charged to reflect on how the historic struggle against racism and oppression in Black communities directly aligns with the Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts mission of Saint Mary’s College,” said Kathy Littles, associate provost for faculty affairs and senior diversity officer. “It is in the Lasallian spirit that we invite the College community to join us for the 44 Days celebration as we acknowledge the rich stories, cultural heritage, social, political and economic contributions of Black communities in our past, present, and future.”

View the 44 Days Website