Most of us grew up knowing February is Black History Month. In elementary school, we studied Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, and discussed the invention of peanut butter by George Washington Carver. School teachers also went out of their way to include multiple activities to celebrate in February.
The University has barely celebrated Black History Month this year, canceling many of the events that were planned because of the weather. Nothing has been done to make up for the lost events.
Various events such as the Soul Food Dinner and movies with discussions at the end peppered the calendar this month which were canceled because of the multiple snow days.
Northwest states its faculty and staff promote diversity, but it’s actions don’t always back its sentiments.
There’s minimal promotion for minority events like A Taste of Africa and organizations like the Divine 9, a collection of historically black, international fraternities and sororities. Even when these events and organizations get promoted, it’s not done effectively nor are the events often that big seeing as the Soul Food Dinner was the biggest event for Black History Month.
Former Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Juanita Simmons said it’s the same people attending the events.
“I see the same supporters,” Simmons said. “The same faculty, students and individuals from the community supporting these events, bringing their families and educating their children. It should be everyone’s responsibility to educate themselves about these events.”
It is up to individuals to educate themselves, but people will not be motivated or aware if these events are not given the proper spotlight.
We do more to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day than we do for the entire month of February.
Lonnie Bunch, a columnist for the Guardian said the month is meant to provide more than the inspiration we often credit to the celebrations.
“Simply providing inspiration is not enough to justify the month: its purpose needs clarifying and its message needs fine tuning,” Bunch said. “The history that is shared during these months often focuses on the famous or the exceptional. Which in some ways makes it difficult for many to relate to.”
Northwest has a fairly diverse campus despite being nestled in the heart of the Midwest. We have four of the Divine 9 organizations on campus which is a major milestone for a university our size.
Junior Class Representative Kenyatta Johnson said these events are important for our campus.
“I believe it’s important to have these events on campus,” Johnson said. “We need to learn everyone’s differences and stories to go into society. A much as we need to learn about Native Americans, Hispanics, we need to learn about African-American history as well.”