The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Black History Month: Celebrating progress, promoting visibility

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Black History Month on Texas A&M’s campus will be celebrated by a number of student organizations and university offices.

Black History Month provides an annual opportunity to celebrate the steps taken toward racial equality, and to scrutinize the persistence of systemic racism in America.
The month of February is named to recognize the accomplishments of Black people and the adversities they have overcome. Each year, a theme is established by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History to focus the public’s attention. This year’s theme is Black health and wellness, and Texas A&M student organizations have planned various events intending to bring awareness and educate the community.
Member of the Memorial Student Center Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee, or MSC WBAC, Kevin Johnson said Black History Month started out as a one-week celebration called “Negro History Week,” which encompassed the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
“The purpose was to highlight the history of people who were not recognized as having much history in the United States, people who were in various times in U.S. history referred to as everything from African, colored, Negro, Black and now we see the term ‘African American’ used,” Johnson said. “That group of people would study their own history as well as share the history with the community. The purpose was to provide that which otherwise may have been overlooked in the past in U.S. history.”
Furthermore, Johnson said Black History Month provides a way of telling the story of a group of people.
“If we can understand that story, and have better context on the stories that shape the communities that are represented on campus, the more we can understand these narratives and stories that give us a better appreciation of one another,” Johnson said. “From that, we can learn to communicate and understand one another and respect one another’s challenges, as well as unique talents and skills and innovations that we have.”
MSC WBAC development and public relations Vice President Ashley Dean said Black History Month means the appreciation and acknowledgment of Black culture throughout society.
“It is an invitation for others to join in and celebrate Blackness and to really open the conversation that we probably wouldn’t have any other month,” Dean said.
This conversation about racial equality is one which Johnson said has gradually sparked change.
“It’s a work in progress in terms of the overarching theme of improving the nation and creating a more perfect union,” Johnson said. “One visible [piece of] evidence of that progress would be the demography of A&M today, in 2022, versus prior to 1963, for example, when basically there were zero Black students on campus.”
To celebrate Black History Month, student organizations have hosted various educational and celebratory events. National Society of Black Engineers President Jeremiah Lockhart said his organization is hosting Black excellence events to further educate members.
“The first thing we did was a Black history general body meeting, where we talked about Black wellness, social, cultural and emotional wellness,” Lockhart said. “We also went to the Brazos Valley African American Museum in Bryan.”
At the museum, Lockhart said the group was able to reflect on different aspects of Black history and culture.
“It was a really great time for us and it bonded us as a group to experience the culture together,” Lockhart said. “At the end of the month, we’re watching the ‘Proud Family’ reboot on Disney+. It’s a big show, and it should be a lot of fun.”
MSC WBAC hosted the West African Film Festival on Feb. 23, the theme of which was health and awareness.
“[The films] deals with the issue of autism and mental health and how we need to move beyond stigmatizing mental illness, understanding mental illness and embracing people who are struggling with various forms of mental illness and embracing them as being integral parts of our society and community,” Johnson said.
As disabilities are yet another trait that isolate people, Johnson said it is important to prioritize respect for people with disabilities, both physical and intellectual.
“[A] disability is also another thing that is a difference, but we need to recognize that difference and embrace, love and support those people who are struggling with those disabilities, as well as their families and work against the stigmatization that has happened in the past,” Johnson said.

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