The month of February is Black History Month and, as always, Saint Xavier University has created a list of events to engage the community in remembering and honoring Black history.
Black History Month began in 1915 with historian Carter G. Woodson and a minister known as Jesse E. Moorland. Together, the two founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).
According to History.com, the ASNLH focused on “researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent.” Part of the way the ASNLH did this was by hosting a week called Negro History Week in February of 1926.
Why February? To coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, the president who abolished slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation, and Frederick Douglass, a renowned black anti-slavery activist.
As time passed, mayors across cities in the US recognized and participated in the ASNLH’s Negro History Week.
After the Civil Rights Movement in 1960, college campuses moved away from Negro History Week and into Black History Month. Since 1976, every US President has recognized February as Black History Month.
Each year, Black History Month adopts a “theme.” 2018’s Black History Month theme will be “African Americans in Times of War.”
According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the new ASNLH, this year’s theme “commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918, and explores the complex meanings and implications of this international struggle and its aftermath.”
As Black History Month approaches, SXU prepares to celebrate with students, faculty, and community members.
SXU will kick off Black History Month on Thursday, February 1 in the Diner Atrium at 12:30pm with student performances, surprises, and guest speakers.
On Wednesday, February 7, the Race and Justice Education and Action club will host an open discussion titled, “Is My Black Beautiful? A Conversation About Colorism” in the Student Lounge at 4:00pm. The group will explain what colorism is, where it is seen in society, and how to fight it. They will also have free pizza!
Then, from 3:00pm-5:00pm on Friday, February 9, students can head to the Butler Reception room to welcome Leslé Honoré, a Blaxican Poet.
Honoré is a freedom fighter and spirit writer. Honoré was born and raised in Gardena, California.
Honoré attended Xavier University in New Orleans to study English Literature. She was also the editor of the university’s literary journal, New Voices.
Honoré’s poetry focuses mainly on social injustice; her work is meant to “help give voices to people who are often silenced, unheard and feel invisible.”
Continuing the discussion of social justice ideas will be Elected of Zion. On Tuesday, February 13th beginning at 2:30pm, students can join Elected of Zion for “Queer, Black and Christian: The Spiritual Experience” in Butler Reception Room.
Facilitated by Jaraed Thomas, Resident Director and Coordinator for Community Inclusion, this event will discuss the intersectionality of Black & Queer People in the Church. It will focus on the relations between the Black LGBTQIA+ community, the Black Church; and its leaders. The event will also allow for broad discussion into identity regarding black LGBTQIA+ and spirituality as a whole.
Additionally, SXU will welcome Northwestern University’s Dr. José Medina on Thursday, February 15th. Medina will host “Taking Responsibility for Racial Violence” at 7:00pm in McGuire Hall.
Student Affairs explains that at the event, Medina “will argue for a kind of political mobilization and resistance against racial violence that he terms epistemic activism, which…disrupt complicity with the distortions in social perception that hide patterns of racial violence and perpetuate the vulnerabilities of racial minorities.
Epistemic activism will be discussed by analyzing photo activism and the activist practices of organizations such as the NAACP and of social movements such as Black Lives Matter.”
While SXU will have a new event happening almost every day of February, they will also be holding a month long book club!
Students, faculty, and staff can join in on reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.
Set in the south, Just Mercy is the true story of an African American lawyer fighting for the rights wrongly accused and imprisoned individuals.
The book highlights racial injustices that are still prevelent in society.
For those who decide to join in on the book club can meet for a discussion of the book on Tuesday, February 27th from 12:30pm – 1:30pm in the Warde Academic Center, room L201.
As Black History Month draws closer, many students have expressed interest and excitement to the month’s activities.
Norris Campbell, president of the Black Student Union (BSU), says, “To me, Black History Month is important because it allows the nation, as a whole, to learn and to be aware of the history and astonishing work of African American individuals. As it pertains to the University, celebrating Black History Month is a right, and for that we, as African Americans, must be thankful for all of the struggles and achievements African Americans of our past have fought for in order for us to be where we are today.”
The BSU is one of the many Registered Student Organizations to help host, sponsor, and create Black History Month events this year.
“As an organization,” Campbell explained, “we want to empower our fellow black student body as well as allow non-black individuals to enjoy [these events] with open minds and open hearts.”
Students can look for BSU at the opening ceremony for Black History Month, their 6th Annual Kickin’ It Old Skool Party, and the 4th Annual African American Achievement Awards.
Black History Month is sponsored by: The Department of African American Studies, African American Studies Diaspora Club, Black Student Union, Elected of Zion, Race and Justice Education Action (RJEA), University Mission and Ministry, Residence Life, the Department of Education, the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Student Activities.
For more information, contact Student Activities at 773-298- 5114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.