Students look forward to honoring historical figures during Black History Month

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To Greg Harrison, Black History Month is just as much about the realities of the present as it is the struggles and celebration of the past.

“African Americans and people of color still have challenges,” Harrison, a freshman, said. “A lot of people think those challenges don’t exist anymore.”

This coming Saturday, the annual Black Issues Conference will serve as a forum to re-examine issues in the African American community and will help kickoff a month of University events celebrating Black History Month.

The Black Student Union will be hosting several events, including a look at “Black Greeks in History,” a collaboration with National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Tiffany Smith, president of the BSU and an Intercultural Communication major, said the month provides a chance to promote minorities on campus.

“I think Black History Month is important to me personally,” Smith said. “Even though I believe black history is celebrated year round and is acknowledged, it gives the minority voice more importance.”

Smith stresses that while the events may focus on black history and culture, people of any race are encouraged to attend and participate.

“We admire those who aren’t black who come to those events,” she said. “We don’t want people to think because they’re not black they can’t come to any events on campus for Black History Month.”

Senior Kaila Johnson, a journalism major, said that organizations like BSU do a great job on making events relevant for students on campus.

As a member of Zeta Phi Beta, Johnson said events like “Black Greeks in History” will help her think of her sorority’s past and if members are staying true to its founding principles.

“When I reflect on my founders and people who came before me I’m thinking ‘How would my founders feel if I really did this?’” Johnson said.

Mostly, Johnson hopes students take the chance to learn more about the subject beyond the commonly known historical characters and events.

“I really want people to challenge themselves, not only African Americans but everyone, to just really learn about black history instead of the basics of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks,” she said. “Attend the events, because they are very educational.”

As a freshman, Harrison said he enjoys a campus atmosphere where learning about race relations and black history is encouraged by various student organizations and communities.

“I really appreciate the BSU because in high school I wasn’t as passionate about it,” he said. “I’m just really excited.”

While Smith said the BSU hosts events weekly throughout the year, she especially hopes students celebrate the month and benefit from learning more about African American history.

“It’s not just black history, it’s American history. It’s everyone’s history,” Smith said.