(Editor’s note: The author of this article is a member of Black Student Union (BSU), and the African Diaspora Club (ADC))
Although February is the shortest month of the year, Black History Month (BHM) has been glorified all across America. Established in 1926, BHM was put in place to pay homage to those who have made a difference in the African/African American community (for more information, check out The Clippers’ previous article entitled “Black History Month: Origins”). There seems to be a pattern of focusing on the horrific past when dealing with black history, however in this case, the reasons why this month is a part of American history, and also how faculty, staff, and students who identify as black, remember to embrace their authentic backgrounds.
DeLon Lewis, a program manager for African/African American students in the Diversity and Equity Center, plays a huge part in this community. Lewis is responsible for helping first time college students who identify as such, with retention, making sure they’re on track for graduation, successfully registered for classes quarter by quarter and helps find jobs on and off campus.
Lewis stated, “In terms of moving forward and growth, economic development and financial literacy is key,” meaning that he inspires to empower students to take control of their education, the willingness to move forward and lastly to graduate.
Lewis is also part of a historical black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Incorporated, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of black men in college. Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity is the first black fraternity, which eventually paved the way to four other fraternities, such as Kappa Alpha Psi Inc, Omega Psi Phi Inc, Phi Beta Sigma Inc and Iota Phi Theta Inc. There are also four black sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha Incorporated (the first black sorority), Delta Sigma Theta Inc, Zeta Phi Beta Inc and Sigma Gamma Rho Inc.Together, these five fraternities and four sororities make up the “Divine 9” (D9 for short), for their historical dedication to black college student success from the time of segregation and Jim Crow, to helping other university students to strive and enter a post racial America in 2020 and beyond. These 9 organizations have had a hand in American progress for well over 100 years.
Steven “Steve” Tobias, a full time faculty in the Communications and Social Science division received his masters in African/African American studies. From the perspective of an educator, Tobias believes there’s a lot to talk about regarding Black History Month. “My hope is that every February, people think about the culture, and use it as a broad perspective,” says Tobias. He also mentioned that next quarter his division will be offering a course, SOC 170 D: Intro to Privilege and Power to the EvCC community. “As long as students want this to happen, then the space can be created,” explains Tobias.
Ruqaiyah Alaji, a communications major here at EvCC finds it inspiring to pay homage to historical figures that have paved the way for black students to receive higher education. “Resiliency from those in the past, is the reason why I am here today, pursuing higher education.”
As far as events go, The Black Student Union, African Diaspora Club, and Student Life has done a tremendous job by sharing the black culture (ex. Melanin Market Feb 12th, Ebony Gala Feb. 29, The Unauthorized Biography Series on Feb. 11, and the Pan African Flag Raising on Feb. 3, just to name a few). The Black Student Union meets Thursday’s from 2:30 p.m. through 3:30 p.m. and The African Diaspora Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Both clubs are open to the EvCC community faculty, staff and students.
Black History Month is celebrated everyday, not just during February.
Please check out additional photos of members of the BSU below as well as a playlist of music put together by the author.