Black History Month underway at Concordia

During Black History Month (BHM) this February, Lesra Martin is only one of the many black men and women whose inspirational life story helps emphasize the importance of this month to everyone.

Last Wednesday at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) on St. Denis St., the premiere screening of the documentary ‘The Journey of Lesra Martin’, shed light on Martin’s life in a Brooklyn ghetto and contrasted it to the life he was fortunate to have after a chance meeting with three Canadian entrepreneurs. They took him into their home and helped the 15-year-old illiterate teen meet Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and subsequently helped free the wrongfully accused boxer. Martin then grew into the lawyer and motivational speaker he is today.

Following the screening, Martin said he found it was it was difficult to let the NFB put him and his family in the limelight but said, “the issues I hope come out of this film like issues of education, eradication of illiteracy… HIV and poverty, I guess at the end of the day, were worth doing this documentary.”

The documentary encompasses not only his feelings of guilt for having the chance to get out of the ghetto and his success after getting a college education but also looks at the life of the family he left behind.

The many social problems present in the Brooklyn ghetto where he grew up resulted in his parents dying because they were heavy smokers and drinkers. Two of his brothers, one who was imprisoned for murder and contracted AIDS and the other who was shot on the streets, also died as a result of the tough New York inner-city life.

Dionne Codrington, who hosts the question and answer period for the television show Black Soul on CH Montreal, found Martin to be inspirational.

“It’s amazing how you can be your own worst enemy. With all the opportunities he was blessed with, he did not achieve true success until he recognized that he needed to change his outlook and adopt a new approach to everything he does,” noted Codrington.

Codrington said she was impressed with his talk of positive thinking.

“There is nothing glorious about some of the scenes that we saw in this documentary and unfortunately that’s not just a movie, that’s real life,” emphasized Martin as he answered a question about how ghetto life seems to be glorified by rappers and movie stars.

Also in the context of Black History Month at Concordia, the Museum of Black Inventors displayed the names and inventions of many black inventors on the Mezzanine of the Hall Building last Feb. 9 and 10, as part of an initiative called Visions of Science.

Steve Lapommeray, the vice-president of communications of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at Concordia, said he knows that sciences and engineering are not considered to be “cool” or as “glamorized” as entertainment and sports, but he suggests that through events like Visions of Science young blacks might be inspired by their predecessors.

The NSBE strives to “spread the enjoy of engineering to the African-American community of Concordia and the greater community of Montreal,” said Lapommeray.

Through information booths set up on the Mezzanine, Lapommeray hopes that the Museum of Black Inventors will help people come to realizations about the black community. “Black people do have a hand in technology and black young people can aspire to be more than just entertainers and get them interested in the sciences.”

For more information visit nsbe.multimania.com or drop by the NSBE’s office H608-1.

What’s happening for BHM at Concordia University?

*Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Celebrating the Richness of Black Cultures. Event includes textile painting, craft displays, painting exhibition, braid making, market place, drumming, poetry reading, food tasting, etc.

*Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in room H-110: What they didn’t teach you about Black History Month, a speech given by Imam Khalid Kriggs.

*Feb. 22 & 23 J.A. De S

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