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IRSC Celebrates Black History with “African Skies” Public Event on February 16 & 17

IRSC Celebrates Black History with “African Skies” Public Event on February 16 & 17

February 3, 2023 Suzanne Seldes

FORT PIERCE, FL—In celebration of Black History Month, Indian River State College (IRSC) presents “African Skies,” featuring an interactive presentation of the African-American folk song “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” The event is open to the public without charge. It takes place at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 16 and Friday, February 17, at the Hallstrom Planetarium on the IRSC Massey Campus at 3209 Virginia Avenue in Fort Pierce.

African Milky Way

The Milky Way as seen from Africa, also called "Pathway of the Elephants."

 “The Drinking Gourd is another name for the Big Dipper grouping of stars, so it is appropriate to reprise the storytelling in our own Hallstrom Planetarium,” shares Adriene Jefferson, IRSC Dean of Northwest Center, Equity Officer/Title IX Coordinator and organizer of the February events. “According to legend, the song was used by a conductor of the Underground Railroad to guide slaves to freedom.”

“Follow the Drinking Gourd” will be narrated in a recording by actor Morgan Freeman. Planetarium Director Jon U. Bell will provide commentary and perspective.

Additionally, stories about the stars and constellations as seen by various people across the African continent, including the Gwara Renzou, or Pathway of the Elephants—marked by the Milky Way across the heavens—will complete this unique Black History Month experience.

Space for the February 16 and 17 programs is limited. General Admission tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Planetarium beginning one hour before show time.

For more information, contact Adriene Jefferson at or 772-462-7101.

The Hallstrom Planetarium at Indian River State College, which has taken thousands of children and adults on virtual voyages to the farthest reaches of our galaxy and beyond, will celebrate its 30th-anniversary opening on February 28. The Planetarium features a 360-degree immersive digital full-dome projection system and a state-of-the-art Spitz automated planetarium projector to recreate the sky, sun, moon and planets among the stars on a 40-foot domed ceiling.

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