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Portland Community College to Celebrate Black History Month

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A number of activities celebrating the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month will be held in January and February at Portland Community College campuses. All events are free and open to the public, including a community favorite, the Cascade Festival of African Films.

Campus-wide events will open with a noon time performance by the Jefferson High School Gospel Choir on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at the Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth, noon to 1:30 p.m. The choir director is Nicole Sisto, who is also a PCC Cascade Campus student. The choir repeats its performance at the Rock Creek Campus, 17705 N.W. Springville Road, Wednesday, Feb. 4, noon to 1 p.m., in the Building 3 mall; and at Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave., on Wednesday, Feb. 11, noon to 1 p.m., in the cafeteria.

The Northwest Afrikan American Ballet, a troupe of women and men performers consisting of 14 dancers and six muscians, will be featured at all three PCC campuses in January and February. The company performs original choreography inspired by traditional dances indigenous to Senegal, Gambia, Mali and Guinea, West Africa. It was founded in 1982 by lead drummer and dancer, Bruce Smith, who also teaches in the Jefferson High School Performing Arts department. The ballet company will perform at the Rock Creek Campus, in the Forum, Building 3 on Monday, Jan. 26, from noon to 1 p.m; on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at the Sylvania Campus, in the Performing Arts Center from noon to 1 p.m.; and at the Cascade Campus on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Cascade Hall Auditorium.

Other events include the Black Entrepreneur Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, Feb. 2 through Friday, Feb. 6, in the Cascade Campus Student Center, interior street. African American businesses interested in participating can call Barbara Kizer at 978-5256 to inquire about setting up a table.

A highlight of Black History Month at PCC is the Cascade Festival of African Films. This is the eighth year of the increasingly popular film festival which showcases outstanding feature and documentary films by African American filmmakers. It will be held Feb. 5 though March 7.

"The festival gives the campus and community an opportunity to celebrate Black History Month in a unique way," says Linda Elegant, on the faculty at Cascade and one of the film festival organizers. The festival is free and open to the public, thanks to the support of local groups such as the N.E. Community Development Corp., the Hoover Foundation, Act III Theaters, McMenamins, and many other businesses and private donors.

The festival will open with the Portland premiere of Through the Door of No Return, directed by Shirikiana Aina, who returned to Ghana to explore and document her family history. The premier will be held at McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd, on Thursday, Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m. A reception to meet the director will follow.

One other filmmaker will also bring his film to the festival. Taale Laafi Rosselini will be showing his film from Burkina Faso, Great Great Great Grandparents’ Music (recently honored at the 1997 Pan-African Fespaco film festival). Films from countries such as Madagascar, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tunisia, and Guinea will also be featured.

For more information or to receive a program in the mail, call the festival message line, 244-6111, extension 3630.

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