Black History Month ends with recognition and celebration

Cosumnes River College’s annual Black History Month Awards Night was filled with dancing, singing, laughing and celebration as the final event for the month.

The awards were hosted by the Black History Month Committee at CRC in the Recital Hall. There were about 60 honorees in attendance along with their family and friends.

In celebrating Black History Month, articulation officer and co-chair of CRC’s Black History Month, Teresa Aldredge said that it was about more than just African-Americans.

“People assume that if you’re pro-black that you’re anti-something else, that’s not it.” Aldredge said. “When you celebrate African-Americans you’re celebrating America. All we’re trying to do is highlight a very, very small few accomplishments as well as some of the issues that are still going on in our society, that’s what we’re trying to bring to light.”

A few of those accomplishments being the acknowledgement of the hard-working African-American students who achieved outstanding GPA’s.

“Tonight is a special night, again, for those students who deserve the recognition that they receive,” said Student Senate President Tony Tran, who delivered a welcome speech at the event.

Dean of Communications, Visual and Performing Arts Colette Harris-Matthews said it is important to honor African-American students because there is a very real achievement gap in African-American history.

“What we want to do is honor success of African-American students to say ‘you can achieve.’ Achievement is within us. It’s excellence, it’s not optional.” Mathews said, quoting the passionate speech from the keynote speaker, CRC President Edward Bush.

“To be black, means to be excellent.” Bush said in his keynote presentation, which discussed the idea of excellence being obligatory and not optional. Bush earned cries of agreeance from his audience and effectively set a positive tone for the remainder of the night.

Campus Life Coordinator Professor Winnie LaNier said that the most important factor of the night was the students receiving their certificates, but she also praised Bush for his sincere, motivational speech.

“I’m pretty sure, the students really appreciated that,” LaNier said. “We are blessed and fortunate to have a president that has a strong, deep passion for students. It’s a genuine, authentic caring for the success of our students.”

Besides the awards night, there were several events scheduled at CRC throughout February that were meant to celebrate black lives, history and culture.

The month began with the opening ceremony featuring Author Joy DeGruy, where she presented her book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.” There was also a poetry and literature event hosted by English professor Emmanuel Sigauke, a presentation on wealth, health and housing in African-American culture and a gospel-choir performance.

You could feel the excitement of the honorees as they walked across the stage receiving their certificates.

Ester Mande, a 22-year-old architecture major and CRC student ambassador was one of the honorees of the night. Mande was born and raised in the Republic of Congo in Central Africa until she moved to California two years previous.

“I felt really proud,” Mande said. “This is like the first time that I’ve had a chance to experience that someone is recognizing that I’m doing a good job and everything, so it feels really great.”

Another honoree, 19-year-old civil engineer major Jimmy Sweatt similarly said the feeling was good and explained how he achieved his success.

“Just by working hard, just don’t give up.” Sweatt said.

Harris-Mathews said that telling African-Americans they could succeed was key and it was important to see others who have achieved that success.

“I like coming to this event,” Harris-Mathews said. “So that it makes sure that we’re achieving and we’re celebrating excellence.”