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Black History Month: a month that should not be forgotten

by The Stylus
Tue, Feb 19th 2019 04:15 pm
Importance of black history Black History Month extends from February 1 to February 28. While many people's thoughts drift to Valentine's Day or the cold weather, the nationally recognized annual observance is often overlooked.  The College at Brockport scheduled a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial lecture to commemorate the month but many are struggling to understand why there aren't more events to celebrate the extensive history involved. 
Photo Credit: Collin Krassowski/Editorial Cartoonist
Importance of black history Black History Month extends from February 1 to February 28. While many people's thoughts drift to Valentine's Day or the cold weather, the nationally recognized annual observance is often overlooked. The College at Brockport scheduled a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial lecture to commemorate the month but many are struggling to understand why there aren't more events to celebrate the extensive history involved. Photo Credit: Collin Krassowski/Editorial Cartoonist

Black History Month is a major celebration in many places in the United States. People commemorate the month by remembering all the rich history of black people in America. But black history isn’t just about celebrating the accomplishments, it is also about remembering the trials black Americans have faced. Black history in America is filled with a lot of blood spilled and lives taken. Here at The Stylus, we acknowledge the history of black America and the richness it brings.

In many places in America, we know that there are those who see it as just another month. Those people do not feel the need to provide events and recognition to the black culture. Then there are those like The College at Brockport, who think that promoting one panel on Black history and some social media promotion is enough to celebrate the month.

Here at The Stylus we feel like the college has done little to spread recognition and acknowledge a month full of such extensive history. Black History Month is the time to shine light on all the major contributors to the country and to minorities as a whole.

People like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas and Barack Obama deserve the recognition all year round, but especially during Black History Month. Influencers like them deserve the spotlight and should be talked about in multiple panels throughout the month to teach students on this campus the fight and grit they displayed to reach their end goal.

But what stands out the most on this campus, is the school’s focus on diversity and inclusion despite not promoting the culture and history of the second largest demographic on this campus.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, black students make up 10 percent of the school’s total population. A small number compared to the staggering 72 percent of white students that make up The College at Brockport. This large divide in percentage is an issue that the college has been trying fix over the last years and will continue to try to improve within the upcoming years. Nevertheless, failure to accurately acknowledge the rich history of black America defeats the purpose of promoting an inclusive and diverse community.

This year, the school will host a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial lecture. The event is taking place on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Seymour Union Ballroom.

The lecture will include guest speaker Bree Newsome. Newsome is an American filmmaker, musician, speaker and activist from Charlotte, North Carolina.

She is best known for bravely climbing a flagpole at a South Carolina state house and bringing down the confederate flag they had hanging up. In 2015, mass murderer and white supremacist Dylann Roof went into a predominantly black church and shot and killed nine churchgoers. That massacre sparked an outrage for the South Carolina state house to remove the confederate flag but the state never acted. Newsome then took it into her own hands and pulled down the flag herself.

Newsome is a major inspiration for the black community and is a great speaker to bring on this campus, but we need more. This one event cannot count for the month-long celebration of the black culture, especially on a campus that has had multiple racially charged incidents in the past. The last couple of incidents on and around the campus should not be forgotten. Many black students endure countless amounts of racism, weird looks and stereotypical comments in and around Brockport.

Here at The Stylus we acknowledge the struggles black students and students of color endure in this area. This is the reason why we feel so strongly about more black appreciation and recognition from the college itself. The college should host multiple panels and lectures not only honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but honoring all the people before and after him who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of the black community.

These panels and lectures are not only important for the black students, but for all students. Educating students of all races and colors on this campus is key to the school’s mission of improving diversity and inclusion on the Brockport campus.

Through these lectures about different historical black figures in America, students of other backgrounds would be able to understand the struggle that their black peers, friends and family went through in history, and still go through today.

Hopefully with this understanding, there would be less racism and cultural divide within the college. But it seems the school and Brockport community believe that February is the month of love rather than the month to celebrate black history.

Here at The Stylus we are not trying to downplay the importance and the value of Valentine’s Day, but when it is used to overshadow a history of slavery and oppression it must be talked about.

Valentine’s day can feel like a month-long event with people spreading commercialized love to friends and significant others. But Black History Month is not a one-day event spreading falsified love, it’s an entire month that celebrates black richness and black oppression. The College at Brockport needs to take more initiative and celebrate such an important month.

A day-long event that features multiple speakers and highlights successful black students on campus and in nearby areas should be something considered by the school.

Either way, one event to celebrate a culture and a history like no other, should be appreciated and acknowledged more than the school is doing now.