By Brooke Schultz
This year, celebrating black history is not being relegated to only one month.
“The idea came from us as a group to have something on campus because for the past year—I’ve been here two years now—but I remember last year we didn’t have [anything] but the Kick Off Dinner,” said sophomore Ervens Jean-Pierre, community service chair of Black Student Union. “We wanted to have something that everyone could participate in which they [can] enjoy the culture and everything.”
The events stretch through April, and include movie screenings, road trips, and guest lectures.
To prepare for the celebration, a committee was assembled, with Jean-Pierre and sophomore Paris Mercier, president of BSU, acting as co-chairs, to create events revolving around black history.
“Since it was kind of hard to start new events … we took advantage of the other events already going on on-campus relating to Black History Month and we work[ed] with these people to put it out there and try to have something the whole campus can enjoy.”
Involving the entire campus community is a big part of the celebration, Jean-Pierre said.
“It’s an opportunity for everyone to learn about American history and history you may not get a chance to learn about in books,” he said. “I think it’s a great way to learn about African-American and maybe decrease our ignorance because that’s something we do have a lot on campus. … By learning together, we can eliminate those things.”
One of the events that the group attended last week was a trip to Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad State Park.
“We had the chance to learn about the story of really strong African-American women and what they fought for—not only individual freedom, but also women’s rights—that’s the history we don’t usually hear,” he said.
Jean-Pierre said he is looking forward to all the events, but is most excited for the honorary degree being conferred to Frederick Douglass tomorrow.
“I think that’s really important that we acknowledge these African-American heroes on-campus because, if you’re looking at our campus, we don’t really have any picture[s] of any African-American figures on campus,” he said. “Even the ones we do have, they’re not in places we can see. The only pictures we have of Frederick Douglass, I think it’s in Gibson where, if you don’t have classes in Gibson, you’d never see it.”
Throughout the next few months, students can join in on Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge” on Tuesday, Feb. 27; a road trip to Douglass sites in Talbot County on Saturday, March 3; the Young Alumni Speaker Series, featuring Sean Rapelyea, Class of 2008, on Monday, March 26; and Darby English’s reading “Essays at the Intersection of Art and Race Terror” on Wednesday, April 18.
Abby Wargo, news editor, contributed to this report.