Black History Month activities underway

by Kelly Gerdts

Simpson is celebrating Black History Month during February, and the efforts have many students as well as others taking part in the activities.

“[Black History Month] originally started in 1926 by Harvard graduate and historian, Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week to educate Americans about the accomplishment and contributions of African-Americans as a way to counter a general belief of African-American subservience,” said Walter Lain, assistant dean for multicultural and international affairs.

President Gerald Ford was the first to declare February Black History Month in 1976. February was chosen because it contains the birthdays of two important characters in African-American history: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

“Black History is an integral part of American history,” senior Steven Ramsey said. “One cannot sufficiently study and appreciate American history without understanding the issues revolving around slavery, the Civil War, reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. Black culture and black people have so much to offer to the American picture and framework.”

According to Lain, Woodson began Negro History Week not only to educate the world about African Americans, but also to educate African-Americans about themselves and to make them aware of the influence they have in the intellectual world and society.

“The celebration of Black History Month is still needed to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans, and it should continue to be used to acknowledge that we live in a multicultural society,” Lain said. “We must continue to improve toward a learning environment that shares contributions without regards to race, gender, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or age. Our society struggles with this level of inclusion, and thus the need for celebrations like Black History Month continues.”

Simpson College has a number of events planned to celebrate Black History Month. There will be a reception for the kickoff of the Multicultural Mentoring Program at 6:30 p.m. in Camp Lounge on Feb. 19, a poster display in the BSC Gallery on Feb. 21, a Soul Food Sampler on Feb. 22 from 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. in the BSC, a showing of the film Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity on Feb. 23 and a hip-hop dance on Feb. 26 from 8:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. in the Brenton Student Center (BSC) Gallery.

Junior Cameron Scott agrees with Lain.

“I think it’s important to celebrate Black History Month because it gives all a chance to appreciate those who paved the way for people, specifically blacks, to be successful,” Scott said.

Since 1976, every president has declared February to be Black History Month and selected a specific theme to endorse. This year, President Obama has chosen to look specifically at the contributions African-Americans made during the Civil War.

“Black History Month serves as an annual reminder to us all that we must continue toward policies of inclusion of the accomplishments of others in our learning,” Lain said.