Celebrating Black History Month in 2016

Hana Barkowitz Diversity Reporter

Concerns surrounding Black History Month and the need to recognize it are now more crucial than ever, Kent Students say.

Emmanuel Jackson, Director of Student Relations for Black United Students and sophomore public relations major, says now is the time to observe black history.

“Acknowledging Black History is important now more than ever because of the #BlackLivesMatter movement,” said Jackson, “as well as the uproar in the pro-black movement, who we are, and show how far we’ve come. Now is a progressive time to end racism and end white supremacy.”

In February of 1968, students at Kent State University proposed to expand Black History Week into Black History Month, in February of 1970, Kent State commemorated the first-ever celebration of Black History Month. Kent State’s Black United Students say, and in 1979, Black History Month was recognized by the US government, Kent State’s Black United Students say.

Cinnamon Small, Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Pan-African studies, sheds some light on why it is important that Americans celebrate Black History Month every year. “Black History month is significant because it’s often the only time that is observed for people of African descent to come together around a single characteristic the fact that they are a part of an undying legacy of people who continue to fight for social justice.”

Students agree with Small, expressing concerns that Black History deserves more than a month.

“It’s good for us to get acknowledgement for the month that we have. I wish we had longer than just a month to celebrate… at least we get to have a month of just celebrating our history” said Emonte Wimbush, sophomore Fashion Merchandising major.

The rest of the month’s activities include a dance workshop on the 17th, “You, Me, & Africa”, sponsored by BUS and the Barefeet Dance Tribe from 7:30-9 in 306 Student Center. Another event included in Black History Month is  film showing of The New Black from 6:30-8:30 in the Student Multicultural Center on the 24th. The rest of Black History Month’s events are outlined on Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s website, https://www.kent.edu/smc/black-history-month.

Gene Shelton, Coordinator for Diversity Initiatives and School of Journalism and Mass Communication Professor, says that every social group needs more than a month to celebrate their respective history.

“The voice of America is spoken in a white male’s voice. He’s in control of America. Our story was told in their voice, and often, that story was negative, as if we made no positive contributions to America. And we did.”