It’s February, which means it’s time to celebrate black achievement throughout history and within society. To bring awareness to black history month, one must be aware of the different activities going on in and around campus, such as E.B.O.N.Y (Empowering Blacks and Others to Never Yield), films that are being shown, and raising black awareness.
I interviewed Nkechinyelum Okolo, a member of Southwestern’s E.B.O.N.Y club, which she stated was, “A place for those to appreciate who they are, appreciate history, and have a safe space.” This club will start its meetings in March, which will be held on the second floor of Prothro.
“Black history month should be made aware. There is a severe lack of black history taught in schools,” Okolo said.
Okolo believes that the lack of black history and awareness within our education system can only lead to more racism and xenophobia. She pointed to some key figures within the movement, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers, but claimed that there are many other influential black figures that are widely ignored.
Even within our own community here at Southwestern, which is predominantly white, there isn’t enough representation of people of color.
“There is definitely room for improvement,” Okolo said. “People of color and other marginalized groups aren’t given enough awareness. Black people contributed a lot to history than they are credited for.”
Groups like E.B.O.N.Y are helping to bring the black community into the light with events such as the upcoming documentary showings. From February 23rd-25th, two films will be shown to celebrate Black History Month. One of these is Chisholm 72: Unbought & Unbossed tells the story of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for congresswoman in 1972. The other which is being shown is Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. This documentary focuses on the forced labor of black imprisoned men and women well through the 20th century. These films are powerful and definitely worth watching, so stop by the Lynda McCombs Ballroom from 6-8pm next week! There will be complimentary soul food served!
“When talking about Black History Month, it’s hard not to automatically think of the names MLK or Rosa Parks. What about people like Huey P. Newton?” Okolo said. “In 1972 a black woman ran for president. There are so many people that we need to gain appreciation for. Then, the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding the black community will start to disappear.”
In a perfect world, black history would be celebrated every day. But history is moving forward, thankfully, and perhaps one day every individual will be credited and applauded for their achievements, regardless of race.
Until then, I wish everyone a happy Black History month. Go and check out some of the other events going on around campus to get in touch with the Southwestern community.