BHC 2020: Reclaiming Our Renaissance

Our History. Our Legacy. Our Culture.

Join the Black Heritage Celebration Committee (BHC) in honoring the centennial anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. In the late 1910s, three forces emerged simultaneously to fuel the growth of Harlem from an uptown city suburb, to a social, artistic, and cultural mecca for African Americans. Low-cost housing, a growing Black middle class, and the great migration from the south provided the momentum for this revival of Black expression. Scholars and poets like Dubois, Hughes, Hurston, and Fauset inspired what is called the golden age in African American culture. 
The theme for this year's Black Heritage Celebration 2020 is: "Reclaiming Our Renaissance: Our History. Our Legacy. Our Culture." The opening keynote speaker is Brittany Packnett Cunningham, a prominent activist, educator, media personality, and writer. Widely regarded as a leading voice for young people, Packnett Cunningham inspires their fight for change and speaking truth to power.
With a month-long series of events produced by students, staff, and faculty, BHC 2020 will acknowledge the plethora of identities within the African diaspora and celebrate the values, history, and traditions of Black Americans. We welcome everyone in the GW community to join us as we highlight the contributions of the broader Black community while we reflect on our past, reaffirm our present, and rejoice in our future.

BHC 2020 Keynote: Brittany Packnett Cunningham. Monday, February 3rd at 6:30pm in the Jack Morton Auditorium.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham


Brittany Packnett Cunningham is a leader at the intersection of culture and justice.

Cited by President Barack Obama as a leader whose "voice is going to be making a difference for years to come," Brittany is an unapologetic educator, organizer, and writer.  Her popular 2019 TED Talk on Confidence has garnered nearly 3 million views worldwide.  Brittany is the author of the forthcoming book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, with One World.

Brittany is a Director’s Leader and former Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics exploring social change and intersectional activism. A lifelong activist and proud member of the Ferguson Uprising, Brittany is co-founder of Campaign Zero, a policy platform to end police violence and co-host of Crooked Media’s Pod Save The People, which has earned the team multiple Webby Awards for Best News Podcast. Brittany was a Video Columnist for Mic News, and continues to discuss issues of justice on television and throughout print media.

In 2018, Brittany launched Love & Power, a hub created to inspire, empower, and outfit everyday people to seismically shift society.

Brittany was an appointed member of the Ferguson Commission and President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.  Today, she continues to advocate for urgent systemic change at critical decision making tables and through national and international media.

From New Zealand to London, across the United States, and at the White House, Brittany has traveled extensively to impart lessons of empowerment, movement building, social impact, leadership, and empowerment for women and girls-especially those of color.

She has graced the cover of Essence Magazine, been named one of TIME Magazine’s 12 New Faces of Black Leadership, and honored at the 2018 BET Awards as "one of the fiercest activists of our time." Brittany has been named one of Marie Claire's 50 Most Influential Women for the past two years, LinkedIn’s Next Wave, received the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership and shares the number 3 spot on Politico’s 2016 50 Most Influential list, among others.

Brittany is an alum of Washington University in St. Louis, American University in Washington, and the Pahara-Aspen Institute Education fellow.  She is a proud  member of the Gucci Changemakers Council and Sephora Equity Advisors, and an advisory board member the National Voter Protection Action Fund, Rise To Run,  and Erase The Hate, NBCUniversal's Emmy-Winning initiative to rid the world of discrimination.

Ultimately, Brittany is a proud Black woman who believes that freedom is within our grasp- as long as we unleash love, and build our power, because “power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.” (MLK)


Keynote: Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Jack Morton Auditorium

Be inspired as we kick off Black Heritage Celebration with a keynote address delivered from prominent activist, educator, and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham.


The Power of the Spiritual

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

Professors Eileen Guenther and Millicent Scarlett present a program of narratives in the words from the time of human enslavement in our country, and the musical responses in the form of spirituals.


Afro-Puerto Rican Live Music Event: Bomba and Plena by Kadencia

Jack Morton Auditorium

[email protected] and AGSA invite you to join us for a night of live Afro-Puerto Rican music featuring Bomba and Plena by Kadencia. Come enjoy a concert that educates through musical expression of Lantinx’s African Heritage.


Homecoming: Black Alumni Reception

Elliott City View Room

Come connect with the Black Alumni of GW. Conversation will flow over food, with the opportunity to bond over the experience of being a black student at GW.


Best of Both Brunch

The Sigma House

OLAS and BSU will have a two-part Best of Both Worlds; for part 1 we invite our communities and allies to take part in bridging the gap with a brunch and conversation, where food will be provided free of cost! Come to eat, be curious, and reach understandings.


Pride and Performance: Centering and Transcending the Body

Marvin Center 301

Osimiri Sprowal (he/they) is an Afro-Indigenous, Two-Spirit, QueerCrip poet and performer. They will use their artistic lens to discuss the complex nature of identity—Osimiri’s work both centers and transcends the body with poems on disability, Blackness, and queerness.


Reclaiming Our Real Estate

Duquès 451

Reclaiming our Real Estate is designed to be a dynamic interactive panel featuring accomplished DC-based young Black commercial real estate professionals. Attendees will be able to learn about the importance and historical significance of black ownership in real estate, and learn about the work being done in our city by young trailblazers in the industry.


Reclaiming the Mic

Jack Morton Auditorium

Join GW’s Association of Black Journalists for a conversation on revolutionary storytelling in the Black community with The Breakfast Club and Lip Service podcast’s very own Angela Yee!


Faith and Black History

Marvin Center 413

Exploring the role of faith in black history through culture, the community, and the civil rights movement. The GW Interfaith Council invites you to learn more about how the two are often more connected than you think.


Reclaiming Love: RoughCut Productions Presents “The Golliwog”

Lehman Auditorium (Pending)

Along with a conversation with Dr. Imani Cheers about the exploration of double-consciousness and the black female identity in film, we will be premiering our latest student film “The Golliwog,” directed by Guinevere Thomas. This film hopes to further explore the themes that Dr. Cheers will talk about before the film. We will also have a small discussion about the film afterwards.


Reclaiming our Community: Service Day

Marvin 309

Come serve with the black community as we partner with the DC Center and Free Minds to give back to the greater DC area. Light refreshments provided.


Reclaiming Our Beauty: A Black Woman’s Self Care Night

WOC Affinity

Black women spend a lot of time caring for the needs of others, resulting in them putting their own needs on the back burner. Audre Lorde said: “Caring for self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” This night dedicated to self care will celebrate beauty and health.


Reclaiming the Motherland: BK Chat

Corcoran 101

ASA and EESA invite you to discuss achieving a solution and moving forward with regard to some differences between Africans, African-Americans, and various aspects of Black culture that may have created limitations on the potential for greater success of organizations and events in the community.


What is the Black Aesthetic?

Black House (611 22nd St. NW)

“What is the Black Aesthetic?“ will give Black artists at GW the opportunity to
perform, display artwork, or share ideas related to their area of interest. In addition, The Black House will be showcasing permanent artwork that will be displayed in the house by Kendall Robinson, a young Black artist who attends Howard University.


Soul Revue

Jack Morton Auditorium

Celebrate black heritage as we showcase performances inspired by a variety of soul, R&B, and hip-hop music videos!


Reclaiming Politics: A Conversation with Sigmas in Government

Marvin Center Amphitheater

Sigmas who work in government can come on campus and discuss how African Americans can reclaim their place in politics. This will be a panel setting where each panelist can present their take on certain situations.


Reclaiming Black Identity (NCNW)

District House B117

In memory of the Harlem Renaissance where black people redefined their identities, this event will help examine the black identity in the 21st century. Through the aid of a panel discussion, the audience will listen as black professors dissect the struggles black people have endured while forming their sense of self.


National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Step Show

Lisner Auditorium

Join the GW black Greeks as well as other black Greeks from around the DMV in their second annual NPHC Step Show.


The Blackness Continues | Finale

L2 Lounge | 3315 Cady’s Alley, NW

We are reclaiming the night! Don’t miss out on the last event of BHC dressed in your BEST and ready to celebrate.


Inter | Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City Exhibit

Atrium Galleries at the Flagg Building
(500 17th St, NW, Washington, D.C.)

Highlighting the work of 25 Miami-affiliated visual artists, along with two guest artists, the exhibit is grouped around themes that encompass diaspora and Creole City life stories, memory, politics, myth, religion, and culture. Special performances and programs will be presented throughout the run until March 20, 2020.