Black History Month will go on without Oscar Ritchie Hall, although changes will be made

Jessica Cole

Have no fear: Black History Month will go on as usual without Oscar Ritchie Hall this year. Though many events for February’s Black History Month would have been held in Oscar Ritchie Hall, the members of Black United Students have been working hard to find alternate locations.

The only difference this year will be that the Department of Pan-African Studies will not be holding its usual film festival or program on Malcolm X. However, the department will continue to meet with the student advisory council and co-sponsor everything that the students do.

The student members of BUS and other black student organizations have always played a large part in Black History Month, so this year won’t be any different.

“Our student groups always took the lead because they have access to more money,” said Mwatabu Okantah, professor and director of the Center of Pan-African Culture.

“As far as BUS goes, we do a lot of the major programming for Black History Month,” said BUS President Sasha Parker. “Just because Oscar Ritchie is gone, don’t think we’re not around and we’re not still doing things.”

According to Parker, BUS has a panel discussion every semester, and this semester it was moved to February to make up for the loss of the Malcolm X panel discussion and the film festival.

“Those are two really well-attended things,” said Parker. “I think a lot of students are missing out on that.”

With all of the different student organizations on campus, the competition for space has been an obstacle for BUS.

“It’s been a struggle just trying to find places to hold meetings without Oscar Ritchie Hall,” said Parker.

Faculty members and students alike have found themselves having difficulties planning events without Oscar Ritchie Hall because they don’t see each other as often.

“There is a disconnect because students are sprinkled around campus,” said Parker. “It’s hard because Oscar Ritchie is like our base — like our home. It’s more than just a building: It’s the center of our universe.”

The renovation of Oscar Ritchie Hall has been a “necessary inconvenience” for Kent’s black community, said Okantah. “It’s just something we have to deal with.”

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Jessica Cole at [email protected].