The University of Wisconsin is celebrating Black History Month by placing an emphasis on relationships and self-reflection with two major events: the Wisconsin Association for Black Men’s sixth Annual Male Initiative Forum and the first Annual Multicultural Theatre Festival.

Wisconsin Association for Black Men Sixth Annual Male Initiative Forum.

The theme of this year’s forum is ‘Man in the Mirror: Is Your Self-Identity a Reflection of Your Interpersonal Relationships?,’ according to a UW statement. The theme focuses on the challenges facing African-American males maturing in relationships, school and overall development, the statement said.

The event will feature keynote speaker, founder of the Nehemiah Center and UW alum Dr. Alex Gee, the statement said.

Peter Balogun, co-president of WABM, said this year’s topic was chosen because there is a noticeable disconnect within the African-American community and the event will benefit the community.

“This event is hoped to foster and continue to grow relationships within the African-American community,” Balogun said. “It will also help people see the importance of why we need those relationships.”

The event will take place Friday and Saturday.

The workshop Saturday that follows the lecture will focus on relationships, and discuss personal relationships with family and friends, romantic relationships, professional development and self-growth, the statement said.

Justin Williams, co-president of WABM, said the forum will work on building relationships as a community, mending relationships and strengthening already healthy ones.

“The forum will focus on interpersonal relationships and how they shape who we are and our self-identity,” Williams said.

Although the forum focuses on the challenges facing African-American men, the topics discussed are relevant to everyone, UW Interim Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Patrick Sims, said in the statement.

The First Annual Multicultural Theatre Festival

The theatre festival features two different works: “Jungle Kings” and “Moonshine, according to a statement from UW. Both works will be shown in Lathrop Hall and are free and open to public, the statement said.

“Jungle Kings” is a play about a young man imprisoned for a gang-initiation crime, the play’s writer and director Rainn Wilson said in the statement.

Wilson has previously worked with the “at risk” youth in after-school programs and the juvenile prison system, she said in the statement, adding that she wrote the play for the youth.

“They needed their voices to be channeled in a way that people would listen,” Wilson said.

“Moonshine,” is a dance-focused performance which will include elements of African, Caribbean and contemporary dance, hip-hop, spoken word, poetry, drumming, chanting and singing, the statement said.

Sims said original works offer students new ways to experience many cultures through the “uniting power” of the arts.

“The festival is a response to provide all students, in particular students of color, an opportunity to reflect and express their heritage, culture and tradition through performance, song and dance,” Sims said.

“Jungle Kings” will have multiple shows throughout the weekend and “Moonshine” will have one performance Friday.