February marks the beginning of Black History Month, the annual celebration of the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the United States. LMU celebrates the historical and cultural contributions of black people through a wide array of educational and entertaining events throughout the month of February.
The LMU Black History Month committee chose the theme “Blacks in the Struggle” for the 2018 Black History Month. According to Nathan J. Sessoms, the director at the Office of Black Student Services (OBSS), this has been one of the most collaborative years of Black History Month, with events hosted by and involving several different departments on campus.
According to Stefan Bradley, the chair of African American studies, the content and topics discussed during Black History Month are not new. The month provides an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and administrators to reflect on the “travails and triumphs of black people while keeping an eye to the future,” Bradley said.
“I believe wholeheartedly that this month makes America shine brighter as a nation,” Bradley said. “At this moment, when people of African descent are being ridiculed for their stances on justice or for merely being from a particular country or continent, LMU can take advantage of the opportunity to escape ignorance and combat hate by engaging in Black History Month.”
The celebration began Feb. 1 with a Black History Month Kickoff in Lawton Plaza. Tonight, Feb. 7, an interview with Amanda Seales from HBO’s “Insecure” will be hosted by OBSS and Maine Entertainment in the Living Room.
The Department of African American Studies is hosting National Book Award Winner Dr. Ibram Kendi on Feb. 8, at 6 p.m., at the Ahmanson Auditorium in University Hall. It is co-sponsored by BCLA Office of the Dean and Vice President of Intercultural Affairs. Faculty were also integral in the committee and will participate in events throughout the month, according to Jennifer Williams, a professor of African American studies.
Other upcoming events include a celebration of Cuban Art and Culture during Family Weekend, Feb. 10 and 11, as well as the Sweet Potato Pie Social on Feb. 15 between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. in Malone 112.
Williams will be facilitating a talkback about the Afrofuturism of Black Panther after the Black Panther Movie screening, which will take place at Cinemark at the Howard Hughes Center at 7:05 p.m. Buses to transport students to the movie screening will leave Hannon Field at 6 p.m. The date, time and place for the talkback is still being determined, according to Williams.
Black History Month was first celebrated nationally in 1976, according to Williams. It grew from “Negro History Week,” created in 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be to recognize the role of the African American in American history, according to PBS SoCal.
According to Williams, Black History Month has strayed from the original intent of the founder Carter G. Woodson. “It has moved from this time of reflection … to a month of repeating the same significant figures, from the same conservative perspective. Black History Month feels as though it is lacking a radical and scholarly perspective, and thus, its heart. While new histories are being created from the protests against police brutality to the recognition of African Americans in various industries ... these new histories are felt to be more ahead of the past than they really are,” Williams said.
“We reflect on certain African Americans and certain ideologies that benefit the facade of an ideal American nation,” Williams said. “We don’t reflect on the reality of the African American experience, nor the lesser known ideologies and people who struggled to expose the root of anti-blackness. We pick and choose which African American History is recognized and ignore that we are dooming ourselves to repeat history.”