Deliverance Mass Choir, photo credit Darren Heslop

February 3, 2021

Andrews University Celebrates Black History Month: Rise!

BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich.—From Thursday, Feb. 4, through Saturday, Feb. 27, Andrews University will celebrate Black History Month with a variety of activities, speakers and events. Black History Month honors—and raises awareness of—the accomplishments of people of African descent.

The theme of this year’s Black History Month is “Rise.” Inspired by Maya Angelou’s literary work “Still I Rise,” this theme will explore ways to rise in the face of injustice, oppression, uncertainty, trauma and grief. This theme will celebrate the ways that members of the Black community have risen throughout the years, says Michael Nixon, vice president for Diversity & Inclusion at Andrews University. “We invite our entire campus community to join us in this powerful celebration of the Black diaspora as we highlight the ways we have risen in the past, are currently rising up, and look forward to rising in the future,” he shares. 

The first event, Black History Month Chapel, will be on Thursday, Feb. 4, at Pioneer Memorial Church. Black Student Christian Forum (BSCF) Spirit Week will take place from Feb. 1–5. Then, throughout the month, Impact Vespers services will be held on Fridays. Short courses on Tuesdays will present the film series Black Boys and also include a presentation on the Black church by Rodney Palmer, assistant professor of religion at Andrews University.

Claudia Allen will serve as the keynote speaker for two of the main events. She will explore the theme “Rise” for Impact Vespers on Friday, Feb. 5, and Celebration Sabbath on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Howard Performing Arts Center. 

Allen earned her bachelor’s degree in English and minor in leadership from Andrews University. She also received a master’s from Georgetown University and completed a certificate program in theology and racialized policing with Sojourners and the Howard University Divinity School. Her “Change Project” for the Undergraduate Leadership Program involved a successful implementation of an African American Studies Minor at the Andrews University Department of History & Political Science.

Allen serves as an international public speaker, headlining events at numerous universities, churches and organizations. In 2020 her virtual speaking included audiences from across the United States, South Africa, Ireland and Australia.

Currently, Claudia works as the online content manager for Message Magazine. Through her co-hosted podcast titled “What’s the Message?” Claudia has interviewed several distinguished guests, including Shaun King, Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, Jim Wallis, Rev. William Lamar IV, Carlton P. Byrd and Lisa Bowens. 

As a writer, she engages with the topics of faith, culture and justice in religious and non-religious magazines and journals. She is a contributing author to Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart’s latest book, “Preaching Black Lives Matter,” and Maury Jackson and Nathan Brown’s forthcoming book “A House on Fire: Why Anti-Racism is an Adventist Imperative.” Her own forthcoming book, “ACTIVATE: Finding the Savior in Social Justice,” details her passion in encouraging activism.

Other Black History Month events include Blackventist Praise and Black Like Me (Growing Up Black). For more information about Black History Month and to see a full schedule of events, please visit the events page at

The Howard Performing Arts Center is a premier 850-seat concert hall on the campus of Andrews University. Founded in 1874, Andrews University is the flagship institution of higher education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and offers more than 150 areas of study, including advanced degrees. Its main campus is in Berrien Springs, Michigan, but the University also provides instruction at colleges and universities in more than 25 countries around the world. 

Moriah McDonald, University Communication student writer