[wright1]Black History Month is a time for reflection, celebration and discussion. With so much going on around campus this month, you’d practically have to live on Mars not to have heard about ways to be involved.
Although multicultural organizations are aiming to promote diversity by using different forms of communication to help students from all races come together to learn about each other, many students, black and white, still aren’t participating in the events.
Telecommunications sophomore Gabe Taylor, a black student, said he feels more could be done to promote the month’s activities and suggests groups could “put up fliers in areas that students can actually see them, and go door-to-door.” He added, “word of mouth doesn’t always work.”
Students should also take the initiative to research events and then actually attend them. “Anyone can stay downstream, but it takes courage and compassion to go upstream and find out what is going to happen,” said Rev. Frederick D. Haynes, III, the senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas. Haynes came to MSU on Feb. 3 to speak to community members, students and teachers about empowering people to change the world.
The lecture was part of the series, “Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey,” which has taken place on campus for the past five years. Every session provides new viewpoints, stories and inspiration from a guest speaker.
[bhm5] “Our speakers are civil rights historians, people who were on the frontline, so to speak, and risk their lives daily to make life better for the next generations to come. They are walking black history,” said Sandy Kilbourn, executive director for external programs in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, which is integral in organizing the series.
The goal for these lectures “is to provide opportunities for interaction with multicultural scholars from education, business, industry and government who spend time on a visiting-appointment basis at Michigan State University.” These lectures reach many people at one time, with a goal of promoting diversity among its audience members. On Feb. 10, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, spoke in a lecture titled “The emerging of African-American cultures: Who stole my identity?” The next lecture, on Feb. 17, will feature Rev. C.T. Vivian who will speak about “Black Power and the American Myth,” at 5 p.m. in the Kellogg Center. On Feb. 24, Lerone Bennett, Jr., will deliver his “Before the Mayflower” lecture at 5 p.m. in the Kellogg Center. The MSU Children’s Choir will also be featured in this final presentation.
The series is just one of the many events aimed at educating students about black history. Other organizations, such as the Black Student Alliance, are also busy planning ways to commemorate the month. BSA President Geneva Thomas said it is critical on a campus of mostly white students to encourage black students to come together as a community. The BSA helps to promote diversity by encouraging black students to come to meetings and get involved, Thomas said. For instance, there will be a jazz dinner on Feb. 18 in the Kellogg Center in Big Ten rooms A and B at 7:30 p.m. To order tickets, email bsaemail@msu.edu. On Feb. 20, there will be a program at the MSU Union, “Reawakening a Black Activist Tradition: A Retrospect of the ’89 Study-In,” which begins at 5:30 p.m. And on Feb. 21, there will be a follow-up to that program, starting at 7 p.m.
[wright4] Even though the purpose of the month is to bring races together in shared celebration, not all students feel comfortable taking part in the activities.
“I do not attend because, honestly, I almost feel uncomfortable about going,” education sophomore Keri Sherwood, a white student, said. “I feel like because I am white, I would be out of place. I feel it is Black History Month, yes, but if I went to something, someone would wonder why I was there.”
“I think it’s only prejudiced because some- most- whites might not have enough information about what’s going on in the black community, and vice versa,” communications senior Harold Shelton, a black student, said. “I think more information for both races would allow a better understanding towards each other.”
Kilbourn said it is important for all students to learn about black history. “Black history is a critical part of the history of the United States,” she said. “If we don’t learn it and admonish it, there is a chance it can be repeated.”

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