MLK Jr. Center open house photos

Kickoff luncheon photos

MLK Center OpeningStudents join in celebrating the opening of the MLK Jr. Center on campus in November 2015. An open house at the center kicks off this year's Black History Month on campus. (Sacramento State/Manuel Pacheco)

Preview story: Sacramento State is opening its arms to the surrounding community, and to other area colleges and universities, for its 2017 commemoration of Black History Month.

Under the theme “Affirming the Dream: Our Hope and Our Legacy,” the University also will commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., offering a bustle of events throughout February to stir mind and spirit alike, build community and expose students, faculty, and staff to a range of activities in celebration of African American culture. This year marks the 50th anniversary of King’s visit to Sacramento State.

“Black History Month affords the entire campus the opportunity to celebrate the rich ways in which diversity improves our quality of life and unifies us,” says Marcellene Watson-Derbigny, associate vice president for Student Retention and Academic Success.

Sac State throws open the doors to its celebration beginning with an open house, which is open to the community and the campus, at the MLK Jr. Center in Lassen Hall, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1. The centerpiece of the month’s first weekend is the 18th annual MLK Celebration Sacramento Event (, to be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, in the University Union Ballroom. Scott Syphax, chairman and chief executive officer of the Nehemiah Corporations, is the event’s guest of honor.

This year, the University is proud to partner with other colleges and universities in the valley. One of them is the University of the Pacific, which sponsors three events on this year’s calendar, including a lecture by noted author and social justice advocate Shaun King at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, at UOP’s Faye Spanos Concert Hall, as part of its Black History Month festivities.

Back on the Sac State campus, the list of events includes:

  • A Black History Month kickoff, featuring a cultural showcase, at noon Monday, Feb. 6, in the Union Ballroom.
  • The annual Black Convocation, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, in The WELL’s Terrace Suite. This year’s convocation examines the importance of the student voice in student success.
  • Performances by the always-popular Sacramento Black Art of Dance (S/BAD) from Feb. 22-26 (calendar: This year marks S/BAD’s silver anniversary.

Other highlights include a “Brotherhood Brunch” in concurrence with the University’s annual Super Sunday outreach Feb. 12; movie nights; a celebration of spoken word and its preeminence in African culture Wednesday, Feb. 15; and the annual Carter G. Woodson Lecture on Monday, Feb. 27.

“The set of events offered provides a reason to pause and reflect on how far we have come and how much more we can do to help our communities and those around us,” says Damariye Smith, MLK Jr. Center program coordinator.

For a full events calendar and more information, please visit – Ahmed V. Ortiz