Elisabeth Martin, Campus Carrier Features Editor
Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor
Black History Month takes place in February each year, and this year, Student Diversity Initiatives and the Black Student Association (BSA) has planned a month of events to celebrate black history this February.
Chon’tel Washington, the director of Student Diversity Initiatives, said that a goal of the office is to produce events that support the Berry community in terms of advancing diversity, inclusion and equity on campus.
Black History Month events kick off on Feb. 9 with a trip to the Legacy Museum and lynching memorial in Montgomery, Ala. On this trip, students will have the chance to see this memorial which commemorates African American men and women who were killed by white mobs between 1877 and 1950, according to the museum’s website. The museum traces racial inequality in America from slavery to mass incarceration.
Washington hopes this trip will start a dialogue that students can bring back to campus.
“We want to continue to have conversations like this all month long, like at the Chaplain’s office panel talking about religion and racial reconciliation,” Washington said. This panel will take place on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.
Another key event in Black History Month is the African American Read-in on Feb. 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. This is a national event that is meant to highlight African-American authors and encourage literacy.
“It’s an opportunity to talk about some things that may be difficult for some folks to approach,” Washington said. “This is definitely a good month to at least try to be more knowledgeable and try to have these conversations.”
At the read-in, students are encouraged to read from favorite African-American authors or share original work. Seven Hills Catering, a black-owned business, will be providing food for the event and there will be door prizes open to those who attend.
“It’s really to show that representation is important,” Washington said. “Some of the people who started up the read-in would say that it’s important for people to see themselves in books.”
Washington said that another aspect of Black History Month she is looking forward to is the exhibit in the library. All month, the library will be highlighting the works of African-American authors for students to read and share.
Washington, along with other students and alumni, will share their experiences of being black at Berry in a panel discussion on Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be really exciting to hear some of their experiences from different years and how it relates to now, the differences, and similarities if there are any,” Washington said.
As the end of the month of events approaches, BSA will be hosting a block party in Kilpatrick Commons on Feb. 22 as a celebration of black culture. All are welcome to attend.
Lastly, the fine arts department will be sponsoring an African American Spiritual and Song concert in the College Chapel on Feb. 25. The songs in this concert are all composed by African-American composers and the concert is intended to highlight the work of these individuals.
Even though Black History Month events will be over by the end of February, Black History Month as a whole is meant to start dialogue that will last.
“I’m always excited for Black History Month, but I am black so I feel like every day should be Black History Month, especially here in America,” Washington said. “So other than inviting people into thinking about African-American culture and our contributions to this country and the accomplishments we have all had— for people who don’t think about that on a regular basis, I would invite them to do that.”