American Black History Month originated from Negro History Week, created in February of 1926 to honor the birthdates of both Abraham Lincon and Fredrick Douglass. Decades later in 1970, faculty at Kent State University proposed creating a Black History Month in its place, and a year later the celebrations of Black History Month started.
For many black students, having a month to celebrate their cultures, foods, and histories is very important. It provides a time to acknowledge the history of people who have been oppressed for hundreds of years and the opportunity for their descendants to celebrate all the amazing aspects of being black. At CA, we have celebrated and had conversations about many issues regarding race, sexuality, gender, and much more. During February, however, we had five opportunities for announcements on various Monday and Thursday mornings, and during each of those announcements, there was nothing said regarding Black History Month.
No one from the administration went up to simply acknowledge that Black History Month had started, or explain why and how it began. Nothing. Several students felt as though they were being overlooked and forgotten by the administration.
“I felt underappreciated, we did absolutely nothing for Black History Month. Since we already have such little representation in our student body and our faculty, it would’ve been nice to see the CA community acknowledge us, especially since it was our month, but that didn’t happen,” Tomilola Adegoke ’22 said. The C&E office’s theme for the year has been focused on self, identity, and exploration. So, to see something that makes up a huge part of so many self-identities, and exploration not being acknowledged is disappointing.
“Black History Month at CA is a literal joke. Nothing is done, and I don’t remember it being acknowledged this year. To me, it feels like we’re being pushed to the side, especially because we get to see other cultures being celebrated at CA such as us having the Lunar New Year Vespers,” Brianna Girladez ’22 stated.
We had a series of amazing workshops on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at CA, but there were some students who felt that the workshops should have been more central to the struggles of black folk. There is no doubt that everything that was discussed that day was important. However, these topics could be talked about on any other day. Many of the workshops on MLK Day highlighted topics that have been widely discussed at CA, but did not include black issues and struggles both at CA and in the world.
There are many CA students that are open and willing to collaborate with the C&E office in order to plan something for the CA community to acknowledge Black History Month. Having something to celebrate Black History Month would have made black students at CA feel more recognized and celebrated.
American Black History Month means a lot to many students in the CA community and seeing how it was not acknowledged let alone celebrated says a lot about what is deemed important enough for the school’s time and attention.