In honor of Black History Month, the Student Involvement and Leadership program hosted an event in the UC on Feb. 7 to engage in conversation with the attendees about the identities of being black.
Prior to the event students were able to anonymously ask questions like: - “Why can’t black people just get over slavery?” -“Why are black people allowed to say the n-word and not white people?” -“What does it mean to be black?”
These questions, among others, led to deep and meaningful conversations among the panels. The panels featured African American history professor David M. Walton, and other students, who would share with the audiences their perspective on such touchy topics.
It was a small yet diverse audience—professors and students, males and females, and people of various different backgrounds—who were all seemingly comfortable with opening up about their curiosities, personal experiences, and opinions. It was all an educational, entertaining and lively experience.
“Personally, I felt like it opened up a nice discussion,” said attendant and sophomore student, Haley Chavis-Hagen. “It was nice to have something on campus that encourages discussion of identity and things that might not be appropriate for a classroom because I feel like a lot of times in classrooms you’re not asked for your opinion or your personal experience, you’re asked strictly for information so it’s nice to have an avenue where you can hear other people’s opinions, and can express your opinions.”
Ever since February 1976, Black History Month has been annually celebrated to recognize the accomplishments of African Americans in U.S. history. Before what we know Students Discuss ‘Identities of Being Black’ today as Black History Month, there was Negro History Week, which was created in 1926 by historian, educator, and author Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History Month.”
He chose for it to be celebrated in February because he wanted to honor the lives of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, who aided in abolishing slavery once and for all in the U.S., and to acknowledge the passing of the 15th Amendment, which allowed black men to vote.
Black History Month gained official federal recognition in 1976 by President Gerald Ford as he advocated that citizens should “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Today, Black History Month sparks inspiration in many to come together to show their pride by creating communities for people to share their work such as art, poetry, music, and movies.