In the midst of the Valentine's Day celebrations and pink decorations, something else is happening during the month of February: Black History Month.
There will be many LMU events taking place on and off campus throughout the month. According to LMU This Week, the events, organized by the Office of Black Student Services (OBSS), began with a pop-up African marketplace in Lawton Plaza on Feb. 3 and will culminate with the unveiling of a statue of LMU basketball legend Hank Gathers at Gersten Pavillion on Feb. 29.
Dr. Nate Sessoms, the director of OBSS said, “It’s beneficial for [LMU students] to engage in the campus’ celebration of important people and events in the history of the African Diaspora, while also recognizing the central role of Blacks in U.S. history.”
According to History.com, Black History Month is the annual celebration of Black history and achievements. Henry Ward, the senior director of Ethnic and Intercultural Advancement (EIS) at LMU, said, “It’s difficult to limit the contributions of Black people to a single month ... I do think it’s important that the nation recognizes the critical role Black folks have played in the history of the country.”
According to LMUThisWeek, other events happening this month include a Black Heritage Poetry Night, a book talk hosted by LMU professor Dr. Adilifu Nama, a diversity panel hosted by LMU’s National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) chapter and a Pan-African film festival. All of the events are open to all LMU students.
AnaLexicis Bridewell, interim program coordinator for The Learning Community, a program for first year LMU students of African descent, said, “It's our time to celebrate us, but with that is an invitation extended to everyone no matter your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. We want you to come out and engage with us. We want you to learn about our culture, how we do what we do, and why.”
Justin Whittingham, a freshman film and television production major, said, “I’m really excited for the Pan-African Film Festival … I would love to learn more about African film. That’s really awesome to me and I’ve never been immersed in it.” Since 1992, the Pan-African Film Festival has showcased hundreds of films created by filmmakers of African descent, according to the Pan African Film Festival website.
When asked what he hopes to gain from the Black History Month celebrations on campus, Whittingham said, “I hope to gain stronger footing in my community among the people in my class and the upperclassmen … I think it will be good to have a lot of time where we will be able to interact and connect with each other over a shared identity that we have.”
Ward said, “The entire LMU community is invited to participate in Black History Month events. It is an opportunity to gain a greater appreciation of Black culture and history.” Every event except for the film festival will take place on LMU’s Westchester campus, making it more accessible for students to partake in the celebration of Black history throughout the month.