Several organizations on campus are gearing up to celebrate Black History Month with a variety of events, panels and activities to honor past and present figures in the black community and discuss pressing issues.
On Feb. 10, the Black Student Union (BSU) will kick off a week filled with programs. Taylor Newkirk, a senior psychology major and president of BSU, plans to focus the week on diversity in the community. Newkirk said some of the events include a talent show, talks about diversity within the black community and a panel about the intersectionality of the black community and the LGBTQ community.
“Currently, there is no theme for BSU week, but the main discussions will be surrounding the diversity in blackness and how this diversity plays out in the black community,” Newkirk said.
She added that the week will focus on “how some black people are seen as not black enough, how even in the black community some are more privileged than others and the impact of the LGBTQ community on the black experience for some.”
Cameron Thomas, a junior communications major, said he is interested in attending a majority of the events throughout the month. “I’m interested in hearing my peers discuss what blackness means to them and share more insight on our culture,” Thomas said.
Darlene Benjamin, a senior business administration major and treasurer of BSU, along with other BSU e-board members are tasked with developing an event for BSU Week. Benjamin said her event would challenge people to “gain a higher level of awareness about their life.”
She added, “I hope people leave BSU Week with a more open mind and with different perspectives from the events we will be having. I also hope it will provide a continued sense of community on campus.”
In addition to the week of events, BSU will kick off Black History Month on Feb. 2. Members will raise the BSU flag in front of the University Center. This flag will be displayed all month, which remains a tradition, Newkirk said.
The Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute also recently finalized an event on Feb. 25 to discuss political identities within the black community. According to the Institute, the event will include a panel of students and faculty members from various backgrounds to discuss political identities.
“After hearing from our diverse group of panelists, I hope the audience gains a deeper understanding of the complex political dynamics of the black community,” Spencer Hinton, a graduate assistant for the Institute, said.
He added, “The false notion of a monolithic black community, particularly as a voting bloc, is far too common, and through this discussion we hope to contribute to a more informed public. It is also our goal to do our part in ameliorating the racial tensions our country is experiencing by hosting this open, non-partisan dialogue.”
The Dr. Martin Luther King Scholarship Association will honor African culture in Latin America at their annual event called Celebration. This year, members of the organization have decided to highlight all the African influence that can be seen in Latinx culture with a night full of food, dance and art.
“I hope people gain a new sense of culture with Celebration,” Brianna Hibbert, a sophomore biochemistry major and co-chair of Celebration, said.
She added, “There are so many cultures that are similar to one another that people don’t recognize. So, with Celebration, I hope that those who attend can see those similarities specifically in the Latin and African cultures.”
Thomas said he finds Black History Month to be a chance to learn more about historical figures and the community.
“This month is of great importance to me as I feel this is a time to educate myself on certain obscure figures who have gone unrecognized and are deserving of praise,” he said.
Thomas added, “Additionally, this is a time for my people to unite, bask in our excellence and inspire us to keep achieving irrespective of the world’s attempt to silence and discard us.”
Nicholas Hernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org