Black History Month begins with celebration

The February events celebrate black achievements and educate others.

February is the one month black people have to evaluate and reflect on their history, said University student Jeffrey Tate.

“We should celebrate our history 365 days a year, but, unfortunately, it has been compressed into one month,” said Tate, a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. “Black history has not only been devalued by whites, but also by blacks.”

But during Black History Month, many University groups will try to restore that historical value.

The Black Student Union, African Student Association, Black Greek Council and Voices Merging are working together to celebrate black history on campus throughout the month.

“Black History Month is basically a celebration of overcoming our struggles,” said Suzie Hewitt, a University student and Black Student Union vice president. “It is a way of remembering our ancestors while celebrating our heritage.”

The events are meant to celebrate black achievements and educate others about such achievements, said Sam Adegoke, Black Student Union president.

“The month is critical to African Americans on campus to recognize our community’s achievements and remember what we’ve contributed to society, and also bring these achievements to light and make others aware of them,” Adegoke said.

This year’s theme is “Celebration of Black Arts,” he said.

Carter Woodson founded Black History Month in 1926. It was originally named Negro History Week, Hewitt said.

That week eventually expanded into a month, she said.

“They needed a longer period to celebrate everything about black history, and a week wasn’t enough,” Hewitt said.

The month’s events at the University consist of shows exhibiting black art, discussions about black history, quilting, game nights, concerts and plays.

The Black Greek Council, which is composed of five black fraternities and sororities, performed during an event Monday to kick off Black History Month.

Approximately 70 people attended the event, which the Black Student Union sponsored.

Each group performed songs and dances during the kick-off. Members of fraternities and sororities danced in unison and chanted greek letters to display the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood.

The event aimed to increase a sense of community and show campus that there can be unity, Tate said.

The event also highlighted important historical figures and contributions former members of the fraternities and sororities have made to black history.

By the end of the event, the audience learned that people of these sororities and fraternities – such as Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr. – were at the forefront of civil rights movements and important moments in U.S. black history.

“You need to know where you’re coming from to know where you are going,” Tate said. “And that is why learning about black history is important.”