BY SHANNON WILEY
As students get settled into their new semester, several organizations on campus want to be a resource for another education: one on Black History Month, also known as African American History Month.
Salisbury University organizations such as the Salisbury Student Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Black Student Union as well as the board of the National Pan-Hellenic Council have planned events for the month of February.
“It’s a time for us to educate people who are unaware of the things our black ancestors have done for us, and not only for the black culture but for the history of the world in general,” NAACP president Alexis Lee said.
“We’re dealing with African American people who have not been properly taught their history, whether it’s systematic but it goes deeper than that,” senior Matt Jackson said, a member of BSU, NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha and the NPHC board. “It goes into the homes of black students as well. And it’s something that everyone can use, not just black people. It’s white people, Hispanic, Asian, everyone can benefit from the overall understanding of another culture.”
Events include a video series of “irreverent films,” Jackson said, from the past century that showcase race relations through history or relevant issues and a drive for water and other essentials for the citizens of Flint, Michigan.
“I believe that Black History Month is an opportunity for students who have not been given that support so much, culturally, for them to be able to come in contact and for them to be able to recognize their ancestors who have moved forward in American History,” Jackson said, “giving them some pride, something to hold onto.”
“It’s very hard for someone to take themselves seriously or to really have that knowledge of self—it’s like someone who doesn’t have a family,” he said. “So until we bridge those gaps of understanding and take away those negative connotations of slavery away so we can actually reach back and look at something that is not always a negative, and show there’s positives and great things that have happened and great people who have come along, people who have set the stage for you to do whatever it is that you’re driven to do.”
The NAACP is celebrating their 107th anniversary on Feb. 12, so during the week of Feb. 7-12, the SU chapter is holding NAACP week. This week will feature a “Gospel Explosion” as the organization pairs with Gospel Choir, voter registration resources, an alumni panel for students to learn about post-graduation life, a resume workshop and more.
“It’s nothing really specifically towards Black History Month, but basically more towards black involvement and black excellence and things like that,” SU NAACP president Alexis Lee said.
SU is hosting several BHM events throughout the month, as well, including a Soul Food Dinner accompanied by the Bernard Sweetney Jazz Quartet on Feb. 5, a poetry reading on Feb. 9, a Zydeco music performance on Feb. 11, a professional step show on Feb. 16, and keynote speakers and lectures.
Many in SU’s black community have goals for what people will focus on and take away from the month.
Jackson hopes that although finding information about black history and culture and talking about race issues has become quicker and easier as technology becomes more advanced, people do not forget about actually doing something to make things better.
“People have a lot of opinions, but there’s less movement in terms of how far we’re moving the ball forward on each play,” he said. “It’s something we have to remain conscious of because we can have all the opinions in the world, but if we’re not putting one foot in front of the other, we’re not going anywhere.”
Lee hopes that through BHM students will learn more about black history and culture than what is typically taught.
“I would like people to see and educate and talk about people that they haven’t talked about, or read literature that they haven’t read before,” she said.
Lee also said for students not in the black community, this is the time to start conversations or ask those awkward questions concerning race relations in America or other issues.
“It’s a time for everyone to come together as one and celebrate our differences,” she said.