Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time dedicated to honor the achievements and tribulations of African Americans.
“Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country’s history,” Jonathan Franklin, a race and identity reporter for National Public Radio, said.
Sammoria Williams, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, discussed the importance of on-campus events for students.
“Hosting events tailored around Black History is important because they honor a rich heritage while also cultivating a profound impact on students by fostering awareness and understanding of the history and contributions of Black Americans, as well as unity and inspiration for a more inclusive future for our campus,” Williams said.
There are many events for University of Mississippi students to get involved in and attend throughout the month. Here are a few:
The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement will host the Black History Month Keynote on Feb. 13 in the Johnson Commons Ballroom. The event speaker is B. Brian Foster, associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. The event is free and open to the public.
The Black History Month Concert, organized by the Department of Music, will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts.
The concert will feature Kirk Whalum, a jazz saxophonist from Memphis, as the guest artist. The UM Mississippians Jazz Ensemble, UM Gospel Choir, UMISSO (Steel Band) and the Ole Miss African Drum and Dance Ensemble will also perform.
UM’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is organizing a week of events from Feb. 11 to Feb. 17.
“They range from community service projects to our ‘Talk About It’ series in which we engage with the campus to better promote diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives face-to-face with students,” NAACP President Meghan Curry said. “(We will also be hosting) our most popular event, our Buy The Block: Black Business Expo, in which we invite Black business owners from the community and campus to showcase and sell their products. This highlights and emphasizes the importance of the Black dollar and community wealth.”
All of the events during UM NAACP week are open to students and faculty. Curry hopes that all events foster an environment of fellowship, open dialogue and learning.
The Black Student Union, an organization dedicated to empowering Black voices, igniting change and cultivating unity and diversity at UM, will also host multiple events.
“(Black History Month) is a time that we get to celebrate and be ourselves and be unapologetically black,” Quiana Monet, president of BSU, said.
The BSU Gala will be returning for its 11th consecutive year with the theme “Black Renaissance.” The gala will be held on Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at The Inn at Ole Miss.
“(The gala) is to allow our minority students and members of the Black community to be able to have a space to dress in formal attire and be recognized,” Monet said.
Members of the BSU can also nominate others for gala awards such as the BSU James Meredith Trailblazer Award, the BSU Emerging Leader Award and the BSU Giving Heart Award.
Links for registration and award nominations can be found on the BSU’s Instagram page.
In addition to the return of the gala, the BSU is planning a mental health day with Black mental health professionals the following week.
The Black Alumni Network of the University of Mississippi is preparing the Black Alumni Reunion, which will take place from Feb. 29 to March 3.
The event is open to current and past UM students, and the link for registration can be found on the network’s Instagram and Facebook.
The month will be filled with independent events and lectures.
Among those is “27 Demands: Commemorating the 1970 Protest,” which will be held in partnership with UM and the UM Speaking Center on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in Fulton Chapel.
In 1970, the University of Mississippi Black Student Union presented a list of 27 demands to the administration. These demands included the employment of more Black instructors, increasing recruitment of Black athletes and the establishment of a Black Studies program.
On Feb. 25, 1970, the BSU gathered to protest at an Up with People performance in Fulton Chapel. Met with Mississippi Highway Patrolmen, 89 students were eventually arrested and eight were expelled.
“This is an event celebrating the work of Black students fighting against racism at the university,” Emerson Morris, a UM freshman, said. “Featuring current students and 1970 protesters, this is a wonderful opportunity to hear about these experiences, especially during Black History Month.”
The event will include guest speakers Donald Cole and Kenneth Mayfield, participants in the 1970 protest, as well as Morris, Animata Ba, Bre’Anna Coleman, Robert Mister, Edward Wilson and Fatimah Wansley.