February is Black History Month and, for many, a time for appreciation, acknowledgement, and reflection. This February, Black Student Union (BSU) will lead the campus in a month full of opportunities to do just that.
Tae Dews, senior and co-president of BSU, said Black History Month is his favorite time of year because it gives him an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments that members of the African/black American community have achieved. Although African/black American history is recognized year round, February has been nationally acknowledged as a time to stand in solidarity with our African/black American brothers and sisters.
On Jan. 16, BSU and EMU warmly welcomed Rev. Dr. Chinita Richardson in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. Emmanuel Kampanga, junior, who attended the chapel service, was especially moved by her grace. “She has gone through a lot in her life and she had every reason to preach radicalism and hatred, but yet preached pacifism, love and forgiveness. I was definitely inspired by her,” Kampanga said.
Junior Paul Kayembe shared similar values with Kampanga, recognizing Black History Month as a time to come together in solidarity, which is vastly important when trying to keep a legacy alive. Kayembe showed an immense amount of passion for the future that was paved by his idol Martin Luther King Jr, as well as other historical figures that he did not want to discredit. Kayembe sees much power in celebrating history. “[History] is not important — it is quintessential,” he said. “Without celebration, history dies out, and stories of trailblazers vanish.”
BSU has planned many events to commemorate Black History Month, including the Malcolm X movie tonight (Feb. 1), a Chapel service (Feb. 23), a meeting with city hall (Feb. 26), and a poetry slam (Feb. 28). BSU is also planning a spring break trip that will lead participants on a civil rights tour through Atlanta, Tuskegee, Selma, and other historical sites.
BSU advisor Celeste Thomas expressed excitement for this month and their desires to remain “woke” through these new revolutions. “Black History Month is everyone’s history,” Thomas said. “Without the effects of African/black Americans, our greater communities would not be what they are today. My goal is to help people be aware — to be woke — because African/black American contributions are all around us.”
Sophomore Justin Odom said, “Celebrating Black History Month is for the future generations. Black History Month is a constant reminder to our youth about [our] culture. I believe that youth in America will soon realize that their complexion and culture is not a curse but a blessing.” To him, these things make celebrating his heritage worthwhile.
First-year JD Richardson shared his perspective on stereotypes on campus, saying that these social stigmas make celebrating African/black history more essential. “The BSU is open to all skin tones and we want people to come out,” he said. “I hope that since we have things planned for almost every week of February that people will attend.”
“There is so much that is unknown [about black history], and I continue to learn new things each year,” Resident Director Oksana Kittrell said. “There is a huge link between our current racial issues and the time of MLK. Although situations aren’t the exactly the same, looking at the similarities just shows how relevant black history is.”