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February 2017

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2017 Celebrating Black History Month by Guest Blogger Mosope Ani

Student Diversity and Inclusion Services is happy to share Mosope Ani’s perspective on the celebration of Black History Month

In the month of February, we celebrate Black History Month form February 1st – February 28th. The month-long celebration honors influential African Americans and recognizes the important role that African Americans have played in U.S. history.
Black History Month was originally known as Negro History Week. It started in 1926 and was meant to celebrate of black Americans while also bringing awareness to black identities. Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week along with other prominent African Americans. This recognition was a result of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), which was founded by Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland. Woodson was unhappy about the underrepresentation of African Americans in American history, and this led to the birth of the association. The organization was established for the promotion of African American history and describes its purpose to, “research, preserve, interpret, and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community.” ASNLH is dedicated to the celebration of past and present African Americans while also telling their story. Negro History week was held on the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.
The event inspired many schools and organizations to host their own celebrations, and in the decades that followed, mayors of many cities began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. Negro History Week eventually became Black History Month when it was officially recognized by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976. This recognition was, as President Ford said, “the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Over the month of February, many events are held that highlight various aspects of black culture. Some of these events include spoken word performances, musical performances of various genres, influential films, museum showcases and panel discussions.
At the University of St. Thomas, SDIS, BESA and DAB have put together a series of events this month that give insight to the rich culture of African Americans. There will be a poetry slam, panel discussions and a Black History Month Dinner. These events are cosponsored by various groups on campus such as the Luann Dummer Center for Women, the English Department, and the Office of Mission. We urge you to attend some of the many events being held. Also, be sure to stop by the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library to see the display with featured works, and visit T’s for a special menu from February 20-24.
This is a time to reflect on the contributions of African Americans to our everyday lives, and it is also a time to be aware of the issues that affect many African Americans today.
Happy Black History month! We hope you all get to experience and learn something new this month.
A detailed list of events can be found here