In celebration of Black History Month, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) is honouring Black heritage and achievements including hosting a jazz appreciation evening featuring the Doha Jazz band.

GU-Q Dean Safwan Masri expressed that jazz serves as a powerful means of communication, conveying the message of unity within the community. He welcomed everyone to experience this message at the concert and appreciate the beauty of music and the sense of fellowship it fosters.

Masri invoked the words of African American poet Langston Hughes, Jazz is a heartbeat – its heartbeat is yours’.

In keeping with how Black History Month was originally observed in 1915, GU-Q is honouring African American contributions throughout US history, while embracing the chance to celebrate Black community members from around the world.

Tracing the rich history of jazz music in his remarks, Dr Maurice Jackson, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, said: ‘I know of no music that has incorporated so much the music of the world. Go almost anywhere and you can see the influence of jazz.’

In February, the GU-Q community is hosting various engaging activities alongside the jazz evening. These include thought-provoking discussions, guided tours, and interactive sessions. Highlights feature a Diverse Diplomacy Leaders Speaker event, a screening and discussion of the film Al-Sit with Director Suzi Mirgani, student presentations on Colourism led by Dr Rogaia Abusharaf, and a lunch talk on the Harlem Renaissance with Dr Jackson, who is a visiting professor at GU-Q, and also teaches courses on the cultural history of African Americans and the history and influence of Islam in America.

Dr Jackson emphasised the importance of considering the African American experience in relation to global events. He noted that African Americans often possess a heightened awareness of world issues, such as the struggles in the Middle East and Gaza. ‘There’s a reason why that solidarity exists. In all this, we have to come together.’

Black Student Association (BSA) member Dalva Raposo (GU-Q’24), originally from Mozambique, remarked: ‘Black History Month, though initially an African American-focused event, has evolved in such a globalised way that allows us to highlight the accomplishments of Black people worldwide, showcasing the valuable contributions made by Black people in several economic industries and political and social sectors.’ Her student club is hosting a panel discussion on Black Leadership in Qatar on 20 February 2024.

To further highlight the diverse history and experiences of and struggles of African Americans and Black people from around the world, GU-Q offered tours of the Msheireb Museums Bin Jelmood House, and curated four exhibits around the GU-Q building, including ‘Black Heritage and the Arts,’ and ‘Pioneers of Justice.’ In the GU-Q Library, posters from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service depict the history of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the 1968 Poor People’s campaign, while a display co-curated by the BSA, and African Students Association (ASA) presents a compelling narrative of African American history and culture through literature and other resources available to students of International Affairs and the wider community in Qatar.

For more information on upcoming public events, please visit their website here.

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