Black History Month is a time to honor the culture and history of African Americans. But junior Cornell Woodson said the celebration should not be restricted because of race or background.
“Even if you’re not African American, you can celebrate someone else’s culture,” he said. “And even as an African-American, you can celebrate someone else’s culture. [We should] bring more unity to our campus through our differences.”
John Rawlins, assistant director of the Ithaca Achievement Program in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said he and his staff have worked with the African Latino Society (ALS) and other student organizations to attract different audiences to this month’s events.
“Black history and black culture give us the opportunity to learn,” he said. “It’s very important and it’s very vital that we take time to recognize diversity and learn about other cultures.”
The college is celebrating the month with a series of events including speakers, musical performances and film screenings. The month began with the ALS flag raising ceremony on Feb. 1 and a film screening of “What Black Men Think” on
Feb. 7. On Tuesday, the LGBT Resource Center will sponsor a showing of the film “How Do I Look.”
As part of the month’s events, Michelle Lopez, a single mother with HIV/AIDS, spoke Feb. 7 about the dangers of the virus among African-Americans. Lopez, who has an
18-year-old daughter with HIV, said AIDS is one of the leading killers among young
Though she spoke to honor National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Lopez said she hopes discussion of HIV/AIDS would continue long after her presentation concluded.
“I think every university and college campus … should have HIV and AIDS as a topic of discussion,” Lopez said. “Don’t just wait [until] ... African American AIDS Awareness Day.”
Taylor Desir, spokesperson for ALS, said he hopes the month reminds people to embrace their history.
“[Understanding] where you come from, your origins [and] who you are as an individual, [allows you to] have a full understanding of what frames your life today,” he said.
Woodson, who has helped with the planning of the events, said OMA deserves a lot of the credit and has been very diligent in making February a month of celebration. Rawlins said planning for the month began at the beginning of the school year.
“All student organizations, faculty and staff that are involved in the program have really made an effort to do a little more and make it more attractive [to students],” Rawlins said.
Brian McAree, vice president of student affairs and campus life, said OMA takes on the responsibility to make the month a true celebration.
“They work really hard to bring in interesting speakers and try to get a variety of events that different members of the campus may be attracted to,” he said.
Rawlins and Woodson said they are looking forward to seeing the political motivator and social commentator Jeff Johnson, who will speak at the college Feb. 27.
The closing event to the month’s festivities will be the Annual Black History Month Concert, which will take place Feb. 29.
Black History Month is a time to reflect on the hard work of many in the pursuit of equality, Woodson said.
“Black History Month means the celebration of the struggles that my ancestors have gone through in order to get us to this point,” he said.
To see a full listing of the months events visit http://www.ithaca.edu/sacl/diversity/bhm/
Evan Falk/The Ithacan
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