Speakers welcome students to Black History Month ceremony

Roughly 100 students gathered for the Black History Month Opening Ceremony on Tues. 6, which featured students and faculty in fellowship honoring Black History Month and those African Americans who have died in the service of our country.

The stage skirted with flags of varying nations and neatly decorated with an African flag draped podium flanked on either side with a poster tributed of the great African American leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Thurgood Marshall and Mae Jemison.

Counselor Denise Marshall-Mills welcomed the crowd and invited them to stand for a sing-along rendition of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice.”

“You have been injected with African American pride,” said Mills.

Mills honored African Americans that have served in the military with a roll call and a “pouring of libations,” which is the ceremonial pouring of a liquid in memory of those who have lost their lives. She encouraged the crowd to reply with “Ase,” a Nigerian word of affirmation, after the reading of each name. This was followed by a brief history of Black History Month and its purpose.

Lenora Collins, a 24-year-old sociology major, read a poem entitled “Memory of History,” which reminded students of our tragic history and urging peace and unity.

Professor Nymbeku George did an interpretive dance to a hip hop laced track with empowering lyrics and a hook of “Glory.”

Anthony Collins gave a spoken word performance that was well received.

Vice President of Enrollment Management & Student Services Dr. Kimberly McDaniel welcomed students and shared of how she is inspired by Thurgood Marshall.

McDaniel honored her grandfather, Edward White Jr., and dedicated the speech to him as well as invited others to honor their family members of all races who have passed away and offering “Ase.”

McDaniel asserted that “anti-blackness” is a global problem, and urged students to fight against the “Master Narrative,” which is the idea that America was built primarily by and for white males.

She encouraged discussion from the crowd concerning the one drop rule of the Early Americas in the late 1900s, as well as the role of the 1790 Naturalization Act and its lasting effect on minorities.

She said that the term ‘minority’ refers to African Americans specifically. She also spoke of scuedo-science such as craniometry used to perpetuate racism and of its debunking.

Finally, she gave credit to African American crusaders who have led the way and encouraged the crowd to engage in “artivism,” or activism as art. McDaniel also warns that the problem of racism is current and ongoing.

Jimmi Gomez, a 21-year-old student with an undeclared major, said  “this was an eye opener.”

Students gained a positive experience from this event.

Erin Campbell, a 28-year-old sociology major, said she viewed the discussion as a success.

“This helps those who aren’t African American understand what African Americans are going through.”