Events honor black history at U

Emma Carew

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The start of February brings a time for the University community to reflect on and learn about black history.

In honor of Black History Month, the Black Student Union is planning events to educate the University community about black history and culture, said Black Student Union President Miski Noor.

“We try to celebrate black greats all throughout the year, but Black History Month is a month to especially concentrate on those achievements,” she said. “Black History Month gives us a really great opportunity to share our history with everyone else.”

This year’s Black History Month theme is “Our History, Our Roots,” Noor said. The first Black Student Union-sponsored event will focus on the Morrill Hall takeover, a 1969 event that led to the birth of the organization that evolved into the Black Student Union.

“In 1969, our history and the importance of what we do doubled,” said Aurelius Butler II, Black Student Union vice president.

He said he hopes students attending the event “get the feel of how it was to live in 1969.”

Butler said the event also will commemorate the life of Coretta Scott King, who died Tuesday.

First-year graphic design student Steven Davis said Black History Month is a good time to learn about black history.

“It’s a good time to take this course,” he said of professor Keith Mayes’ black history class. “You can further your knowledge so you can understand your history more.”

Some students said they think black history should be recognized as part of all history, and not focused on only during February.

“Everything should be intertwined,” said geography junior Aaron Dahmen. “If (black history) is not included, it’s a huge part that’s being left out.”

Geography graduate student Lutalo Toure said Black History Month gives students an opportunity to relax and study their history in a different, thematic way.

Toure said he thinks Black History Month is less publicized and has less support from the University administration than it did in 1982 when he began as a student.

In the past, speakers of higher prominence, such as John Henrik Clarke and Sonia Sanchez, came to the University during Black History Month, he said.

“We just don’t see that any more,” Toure said.

The prominence of Black History Month shifts from year to year, said Alexs Pate, professor of African American and African studies.

“I think it’s an important time,” he said. “I think it forces us all to reflect on the history of black people in this country and our participation in the American experiment.”

The Black Student Union’s planned events will focus on several topics, including the histories of ancient African civilizations and the role of Islam in the black community.