Black History Month spreads cultural appreciation at Pierce

Photo: Black Student Union President and Student Ambassador Rhonda Apfel poses with BSU member and Student Ambassador Vekissa Drake. Both students think that students should honor black history throughout the year.

Katie Fenton, Online Reporter

As its name suggests, Black History Month is about honoring and celebrating the people and events that helped shape history not only for black citizens, but for people worldwide.

Although February has come to completion, the Office of Student Life hosted multiple events in honor of Black History Month, including the Feb. 2 Black History Month Kickoff, which featured hip-hop artist Sharp Skills rapping about social issues such as race.

The OSL also sponsored the Feb. 17 Social Justice Rap performed by rapper NomiS, who is a socially conscious artist according to his website nomishiphop.com.

An open discussion called “Check Your Privilege” is being held from 1-2:30 p.m. on March 2 in the Multipurpose-Room.

In addition, posters of influential African Americans such as Blanche Kelso Bruce, a former U.S. Senator, and a description of their accomplishments can be found around campus including the Arts and Allied Health Building and the first floor of the Brouillet Library/Science Building.

Some Pierce College Puyallup students expressed their appreciation of the activities observing Black History Month.

“The rapping and posters on campus are awesome,” student Rebecca Miller said. “It’s really important to show as much support as possible (for Black History Month).”

Student Kayla Maas agreed and said that the community at Pierce is generally inclusive of everyone.

“It’s a good thing to embrace all different cultures,” Maas said. “I’ve seen (racism) in the media, but not at Pierce.”

Yet other students believe the Puyallup campus community isn’t doing enough for Black History Month and that the event shouldn’t even be limited to a single month.

“I think it needs to be more than a month,” BSU member and Student Ambassador Vekissa Drake said. “It needs to be more than the shortest month of the year – it’s not enough.”

Black History Month, established in 1976, was originally called “Negro History Week” and created by African-American historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, according to history.com. It’s celebrated in February to correspond with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which is Feb. 12.

BSU President and Student Ambassador Ronda Apfel said there needs to be different ways of letting people know about black history. She said it’s difficult getting students involved because they don’t actively try to learn about black history; they don’t understand or appreciate black history because it wasn’t taught to them.

Drake explained that professors offering extra credit to students would encourage them to attend events about black history and learn more about the cultures around them.

“We need to involve the professors,” Drake said. “If they are the ones teaching the classes and can relate to the activities on campus, then it’s not a bad thing to send us out for extra credit.”

In an effort to increase cultural awareness, members from the OSL are taking 40 students to the annual Students of Color Conference, where there will be workshops that  highlight minority groups such as Muslims, African Americans and the LGBTQIA community.

“(The purpose) is to get an appreciation and understanding of other cultures,” Equity and Diversity Coordinator Timothy Estes said.

The SOCC will be held from April 21-23 in Yakima. The deadline to sign up is 5 p.m. March 9. Applications can be found in room 210 in the College Center.

Drake said she believes people should celebrate black history throughout the year and not limit their knowledge to the month of February.

“It should be a daily reminder,” Drake said. “It’s important for the past. In order to get where you’re going, you need to know where you came from.”

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Black History Month spreads cultural appreciation at Pierce

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