An Important Celebration: How Higher Ed is Recognizing Black History Month
Register for the CUPSI Celebration Series, an inclusive poetry series of identity-based virtual open mics kicking off a Black History Month
After racial and social tensions hit a boiling point last year, celebrating Black History Month is crucially important. Black History Month gives everyone an organized opportunity to learn about Black achievements, struggles, historical and contemporary figures, and more throughout February.
Where to start? Overview articles like those in USA Today provide a guide on what the month means, who it represents, and how you can learn and celebrate. Additionally, an article from Texas A&M Professor Albert Broussard looks back on the history of Black History Month and its importance today. Texas A&M also published an article about the Black-led achievements at the university, a microcosm of how the Black community contributes to higher education.
“There is no excuse to not learn more about Black history or quite frankly the history of any group,” Broussard said. “There’s a wealth of material out there to choose and learn from, you just have to be self-motivated to do it.”
A Proclamation on Black History Month, 2021, from the White House and President Biden also recognizes the month as a national celebration and addresses the need to combat racial inequality.
“We have never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation –- that all people are created equal and have the right to be treated equally throughout their lives. But in the Biden-Harris Administration, we are committed to fulfilling that promise for all Americans,” the release said.
Universities and colleges have begun celebrating Black History Month with talks, virtual gatherings, educational material, and other activities and events. Amarillo College Associate Director of Advising Melodie Graves will host a TED Talk at Texas State University; Southern Illinois University will feature guest speakers to discuss the criminal justice system, Black arts, and how to build legacies; the University of Maine is organizing an “Indoor Sprint Triathlon for Social Change” and an online “Racial Justice Challenge”; and student-led events such as book clubs will be held at Utah Valley University.
Student unions and centers particularly will host events throughout the month. The UTSA Multicultural Student Center at the University of Texas–San Antonio, the Overman Student Center at Pittsburg State University, the Lory Student Center and Black/African American Cultural Center at Colorado State University, the African American Cultural Center at Southern Illinois University, and various centers at California State University– Northridge are some of the many centers participating with events for Black History Month.
The Martin Luther King Center and University of Kentucky Student Activities Board will notably host Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s youngest child, as a speaker at the Worsham Center.
“Since the late '60s and officially in 1976, Black History Month has been a long-awaited time for the corporate celebration of Black culture, Black stories and Black people,” said Chandler Frierson, UK senior and programming intern at the MLK Center. “With that narrative, this year’s Black History Month is a special month. People across the world have witnessed firsthand a year that has further proven the endurance, voices and multi-faceted accomplishments of Black people.”
Unfortunately, sabotage such as hackers attacking a Utah Black Student Union poetry slam with hateful, racist messages shows there’s much work to be done in educating people on Black rights. Articles such as “We Need A Longer Month: The Importance of Black History Month” in The College Reporter and podcasts such as “Don’t Call Me Resilient” for The Conversation also advocate for continued awareness and exposure to Black voices and struggles beyond just Black History Month.
Take the time this month to learn more about Black History Month, whether it be at your school, home, or workplace. For an ACUI celebration, join us on February 25 at 6 p.m. for the Black History Month Poetry Open Mic as part of the ACUI Celebration Series. Click here to learn more and to register. Enjoy Black History Month 2021!