Black History Month a time of reflection, celebration at UDM

Black History Month is celebrated in one of the most frigid months of the year, February. However, the celebration of freedom, equality and the achievement of African Americans must certainly bring some warmth and happiness in these bitter times. Black History Month is a fairly new celebration and wasn’t officially observed until February 1976, when President Gerald Ford established Black History Month to honor Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. 

Woodson initially created Negro History Week before Black History Month was recognized. Negro History Week was the precursor to Black History Month. Woodson had a vision of celebrating African Americans for all that they have contributed to their country, and he wanted to recognize and celebrate their abundantly rich culture. Woodson chose to create Negro History Week in February because he observed that February had values of “reform and tradition. February is also when we observe Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglas’ birthday. The Black community had created a tradition in celebrating both of their birthdays because of the impact that they have had on the course of Black history. Woodson wanted to maintain the tradition while recognizing this. 

Many people in the Black community have someone that inspires them, whether it be someone famous or a family member. Jayda Bush, a senior at UDM, said that Sojourner Truth was an inspiring figure for her because she was a “Black woman who had helped to free a lot of slaves.  

Negro History Week exploded as soon as it was created and Black, middleclass citizens consumed more Black literature and became more observant of their culture. Professor Justin Williams created the 6 Mile Meetup for students to explore the culture of Detroit and learn about the rich history of their city, a lot of which has been influenced by African Americans. Negro History Week quickly transitioned to Black History Month and African Americans and proBlack, white citizens embraced the observation. 

Woodson wanted Black history to be observed the whole year because he thought that education about Black culture shouldn’t just be focused on for a month. Like Woodson, Michael Oaks, a freshman basketball player for the Titans, thinks that Black history should be integrated more in schools and not just focused on for one month. Today, Detroit celebrates Black History Month and the culture of African Americans in many ways. RA and Lacrosse player Ally Don Jean-Francois decorates his floor for Shiple Hall and will be showing movies related to Black History Month for his residents. 

Here at UDM, we have many ways to celebrate the multiple cultures that we have on campus. Black History month is a great time to beat those winter blues, celebrate your culture and see what your campus has to offer.  

Assistant Director of Student Life Adam Hollmann was able to give some information on some key events that will be happening on campus for Black History Month. Maybe you have a little hidden Picasso inside of you.Head to the Special Functions Room in the School of Dentistry on Feb. 8 to paint the night away. If you are a romantic at heart, stop 

by the Student Union Ballroom on Valentine’s Day at 7 p.m. to hear Love Stories from the Underground Railroad. Hollmann wanted to highlight some of the events that the campus is putting on and the importance of the love stories and their significance during the period of the Underground Railroad. His most favorite event is that one because it’s performed by Professor Roy Finkenbine on Valentine’s Day and it’s amazing to think at that time there was still a possibility for a love story to be formed. 

Some other events that you can attend are the Poetry Slam, which will be held in the Student Union on Feb. 20 from 6 p.m. Williams said this event was a great interactive event for students to even sign up and read their own poetry. 

Williams said, “The Poetry Slam is a great way to learn more about black history while supporting your peers. 

Even though Woodson didn’t get his original dream of Black History Month being celebrated for a whole year, it still is observed for a month, so take the time to observe and appreciate the cultures of those around you; who knows, you might learn something new!