By Nathaniel Fryer
Black History Month was first celebrated in the United States on February 1970, at Kent State University in Ohio. Six years later, it was given federal recognition by President Gerald R. Ford.
Black History Month has been celebrated at Alma College now for several years. Black History Month is the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which happened on January 15.
Over Martin Luther King Jr. Week, presenters such as Naomi Tutu (daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu) were invited to speak at the college, and the Alma Choir and a few dancers performed in the chapel.
Over the course of this month, there will be a number of student-led events that will be held on campus. The Multicultural Student Union, in collaboration with the Psychology Club, will be showing “For Colored Girls”, on February 15 at 7:30pm.
In addition, the Diversity and Inclusion Office will be holding a series of events throughout the month, including two movie screenings on February 13 in SAC 113 and DOW L4 at 6:30pm. There will also be Black History Trivia on February 7 in the Thistle Room in SAGA from 11:30am-12:30pm.
Many people know about important black leaders like Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr., but not many know about people like George Washington Carver, Sojourner Truth or Congressman John Lewis. For that reason the Center for Student Opportunity will have a display case that will feature less known (but equally as important) black politicians, artists, painters and athletes. This display will be up up throughout the month.
“I feel like in today’s society, you have to have recognition for the events that blacks have participated in. Regardless of your race, it is a good idea for people to take a step back and look at our collective history as a nation,” said Khalee Simpson (’20). “Celebrating this month allows for people to take a minute and think about black history.”
In the past, the advertisement of Black History Month was lacking. Since the new Diversity and Inclusion Director, Candy McCorkle, took office around a year ago, the advertisement has increased.
“When I came last year, I don’t think [Black History Month] received the advertisement it should have gotten. Since then, I’ve been able to develop relationships with the local paper, and advertised about it,” she said.
“In my role, I am working to make these events inclusive to everyone on campus, which is important because black history is America’s history.”
Since the advertisement of these events has increased, attendance has been up. Some professors have been giving their students extra credit to attend these events, and athletes have also been encouraged to attend by their coaches.
“I think that considering we go to a predominately white college it’s important to celebrate Black History Month so that people of color can celebrate their history,” says TiKilah Turner (’19), the Vice President of the Multicultural Student Union.
“Black History Month is about unity within the black community, and giving recognition to our blackness. Our blackness is beautiful.”