February is Black History Month and Seton Hall is hosting numerous events including the Seton Hall Black History Inaugural Lecture, which was held on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. in the Jubilee Hall Auditorium.
The theme of Black History Month this year is “The Crisis in Black Education.”
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Association (MLKSA) hosted Kathleen Cleaver, currently a senior lecturer in law at Emory University and a member of the Black Panther movement in the 1960s, as a speaker. The talk centered on Cleaver’s life and how she became involved in the Black Panther and Black Power movement during the 1960s.
Cleaver stressed that the Black Panther movement, which was started by two black college students, should help college students understand that they can make a change. She said, “You are college students, and you have a lot of world changing ahead of you.”
When asked about the importance of life, whether the individual is African American, Muslim American or any other ethnicity, she responded, “Life is precious. To be human is to understand that.”
Her presence on campus inspired many of the students that attended the lecture.
Taylor Newkirk, a freshman psychology major said, “I really appreciated the fact that SHU had brought someone as powerful as Kathleen Cleaver onto campus. It’s a real inspiration to the young aspiring activists here.”
Another student, Josh Corpuz, a sophomore diplomacy major, also attended the event. “I feel really empowered. I am interested in the intersection of race and gender and Professor Cleaver embodying passion for civil rights makes me find inspiration in the fight for civil rights,” he said.
Rev. Dr. Forrest Pritchett, director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Program, explained the importance of Black History month on SHU’s website. “Some folks like to say that Black History is American History. That statement would be true if all of the components of the Black experience were treated and covered in American history books,” he said. “The reality is, that historically, most African American children begin to feel different, in a negative way after reading about the experience of their people in traditional text material.”
The reminder of the need for change is seen in Black History Month and Cleaver demonstrated through her talk that there is plenty of change to be seen in the world.
“The world we live in is capable of being changed,” Cleaver said, “You are the ones who make the difference.”
Benjamin Jaros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.