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Campus, student groups to host variety of events for Black History Month

Robyn Newcomb
Features Editor

From the beginning to the end of this February, The College of Wooster community will be embracing the heritage of Black History Month through a variety of events, led by both staff and student groups. From education to celebration, every student should be making the most of these opportunities to broaden their understandings of black history.

“The College has a pretty good history of celebrating BHM events,” said David Butts, director of Multicultural Student Affairs in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), “but I have to say, much of that celebration is led by students. It’s slightly unique in my experience with other schools in that students take such a lead in the creation and facilitation of the events.”

“The multitude of these different events, they all become such strong traditions, so it’s passed down; there’s an expectation within our community that they’ll continue after we’re gone,” said Aaron Roberson ’18, president of the Black Student Association (BSA). “I think it shows the strength of our community, and it also shows the College the importance of the education programming that we do.”

The month started off with the first of a two-part educational genealogy workshop sponsored by the CDI, which was focused on the unique aspects of African-American history and ancestry. “One of the things that’s sort of unique about African-Americans in this country is we don’t have the ability to trace back our ancestry as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade … The best that most people of color in this country can do is say ‘I’m from a continent,’” said Butts.

BSA continued the educational dialogue with a discussion hosted last Thursday about the history of social justice at Wooster, helping students to understand the lineage of fighting for racial equality that they follow at their own college.

Wooster has three other educational events to be looking forward to this month as well. The Ignite Conference, co-sponsored by Word Up! and the CDI, is a black student ministry conference occurring Feb. 9-11. “It’s really talking about, for black Christian students, what does it mean to integrate your identity into your faith? What are the ways that you can bring about the Christian vision onto your campus and into your life as a black student?” said Jahqwahn Watson, intern for the CDI and A.P.E.X.

Men of Harambee and Minorities in S.T.E.M. will also be bringing speaker Dr. Charles Modlin to campus to facilitate a discussion on navigating through the world of S.T.E.M. as a person of color. In addition, the school will also be bringing a central speaker, who has yet to be announced, during this month.

To learn more about black history through the lens of film, students can attend any of three movie events this month. Queer People of Color will be showing “Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church,” in the Lowry Pit on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. The Black Women’s Organization will be showing “Black Panther” on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., and WAC will be showing “Race” on Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.

In addition, on Feb. 28, BSA and the First Generation Students Organization will be co-hosting a poetry open mic for all students.

The month will not elapse without food-related events either. On Feb. 7, Women of Images hosted Soul Food, the annual collaborative dinner in Kittredge Hall. On Feb. 25, students can head to Douglass basement at noon to celebrate the month’s events at BSA brunch.

Other ways to celebrate and appreciate the month include African Student Union’s (ASU) Ubüntu event celebrating African culture, showcasing fashion, spoken word, singing, poetry and dancing. Ubüntu will be on Feb. 23 in Gault Schoolhouse from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; ASU will be hosting the Afrobeat dance party in the same location from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Other celebrations include Women of Images’ Sadie Hawkins Dance in Lowry Ballroom on Feb. 24 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and ASU’s Valentines Day flower sale, the proceeds of which will be donated to an organization agreed on by ASU and WAC.

“[Black History Month] is my favorite month of the year,” summarized Watson. “Especially as a student leader, I always saw planning programs during Black History Month as a lot of work, but it was always my time to take care of my community and put some of that love out in ways that are more tangibly represented. I’m really excited to see all the ways that black students and other folk will see themselves represented and cared for, and feel seen and heard and present during this month.”

“It solidifies our presence on campus,” added Christian Betre ’19, president of ASU. “Passing down the tradition of these events creates more and more of the history aspect as we go along.”

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