South Texas College’s History Department is celebrating Black History Month in February 2009 with a variety of exciting speakers and fun events.

“This is the first year we have been able to go all out in celebrating African American history, heritage and culture and so we put together a series of activities highlighting subjects that our students can relate to, such as music, dress and faith,” said Mychal Odom, STC history instructor and celebration coordinator. “These subjects touch our students’ lives every day. I know that they will come away with a new understanding of how African Americans have impacted the way we think about rhythm and music, the way we think about Christianity, and even the way we all dress.”

The event kicks off on Monday, Feb. 2 with the presentation, “The History of Blacks in the Rio Grande Valley” by Alberto Rodriguez, doctoral candidate from The University of Houston. Rodriguez will discuss how African Americans have contributed to the evolution of the Valley as one of the fastest growing and most-economically stable regions in the United States. His presentation will scan the late 1800s to modern day.

On Thursday, Feb. 12, Dr. Brett Wilkinson, a professor at Northwest Vista College and The University of Texas-San Antonio, will talk about how Hip-Hop has impacted American culture from the way music is written, performed and produced, to modern day dress and sense of style.

Felipe Hinojosa, doctoral candidate from the University of Houston, will talk about the history of African American religion on Monday, Feb. 16. He will discuss the role of religion and black churches during the civil rights movement.

Capping off the speaker series on Thursday, Feb. 19, Dr. Luis Alvarez, a professor at The University of California-San Diego, will give the presentation, “Zoot Suits, Youth Culture and Resistance During WWII.” Alvarez will focus on the impact of 1940s and 1950s African American youth counter-culture and how it impacted American life. His presentation will follow a book signing of his latest acclaimed publication, “The Power of the Zoot: Youth Culture and Resistance During WWII.”

All presentations will begin at 7 p.m. at the college’s Pecan Campus Library Rainbow Room located at 3201 W. Pecan Blvd. in McAllen. The activities are free and open to the public.

In addition to a speaker series, the celebration includes a variety of film showings, as well as special activities for students every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during February at the Student Activities Center at the college’s Pecan Campus.

“The celebration is designed to commemorate the unique, positive impact African Americans have had in creating the melting pot of today’s United States,” added Odom. “We look forward to helping our students, and the community, gain a new perspective.”

For more information about STC’s Black History Month celebration contact Mychal Odom at 956-872-3566 or modom@southtexascollege.edu.