Students and professors discussed the importance of celebrating Black History Month during the month of February and what it means for African Americans and their culture.
Rev. Forrest Pritchett, a professor and the special advisor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a professor at the University, said he organized sit-ins for his school and protested for equality at his university during the Civil Rights Movement. He shared his point of view of what he experienced at that time.
“We had been enslaved in our minds because, back then, we still had a slave mentality,” Pritchett said. “We needed a cognitive revolution, so some young people came up with the phrase, ‘If Black is what makes us feel bad, we will say Black power.’ It was like taking every negative word and making it positive.”
Pritchett said that when he was younger, he talked in a room with 300 people about doing a sit-in protest; half agreed to take part, but only seven people showed.
“That’s when I realized fear is operating, but I knew if we didn’t do this, we’d be punked out by our fear,” Pritchett said. “I wasn’t going out like a punk.”
This month is a celebration, but also a time to acknowledge the challenges faced by Black people. Pritchett said to stay aware of the challenges and to use the tools students have today.
“People are waiting for your generation to ‘go to sleep,’ which means they’re waiting for you to not care about the Black issues,” Pritchett said. “A true activist must be other-oriented, not self-oriented. You cannot be a consumer to the people, you must be a supporter to the people.”
Kelly Harris, the University’s director of Africana Studies, said that this is not the only month intended to highlight Black personalities, issues, or achievements.
“This Black History Month, I encourage all to commit to moving beyond performance and using each month to study the Black experience,” Harris said. “We have required a challenge to confront this requirement and anything less will be spitting at the memory of those who came before us.”
Students celebrate the Black figures that came before to lead and help the country grow. In front of Cabrini Hall, the University commemorates Black culture by raising a flag in honor of them.
Chineme Nwodili, a freshman biology major, expressed admiration for this month and what it means to her.
“Black History Month is the time where Black people can celebrate their liberation, strength, and perseverance,” Nwodili said. “It means recognizing how other races and people of color influenced the growth of this country.”
Judaea Ingram, a freshman visual and sound media major, said that Black History month to her means pride.
“It is a time where I and people like me are truly celebrated and acknowledged,” Ingram said. “I celebrate because it’s a month about me. It’s like celebrating a birthday or Christmas; it’s near and dear to my heart and makes me happy.”
Jade Holmes can be reached at email@example.com.