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What Does Black History Month Mean To You?

In celebration of Black History Month, the Student Life team asked students, faculty, alumni, and staff for quotes and thoughts about the importance of the season. Below is a compilation of the thoughts and experiences members of our community chose to share.

McSteve Ezikeoha, M.S. in Actuarial Science

"Black is beautiful, Black is excellent.
Black is pain, Black is joy, Black is evident.
Black is so much deeper than just African-American.

Black is growing up around the barbershop.
Black is stepping in for your mother because your father's gone.
Black is being forced to leave the place you love because there's hate in it.

Black is struggling to find your history or trace your roots.
Black is being strong inside while facing defeat.
Black is being guilty until proven innocent.

But Black is all I know, there ain't a thing that I would change in it."

Culled from Santan Dave's "Black"

Nia Hill, M.S. in Nonprofit Management

Black History Month is a reminder to all Americans that their country would not be as wealthy and sustainable today if it were not for the innovation, hard work, intellect, and courage of Black Americans that came before us. There are so many to give credit to! Just know that for me, because of the innumerable amount of Black folk that dedicated their lives to change, Black History Month re-affirms the fact that I, a proud Black woman, have no excuse to not impact my community, this nation, and ultimately the world.

Victor Oko, M.S. in Technology Management

Black History Month is about appreciating and recognizing key African American achievements.

Annette Parkins, M.A. in Social-Organizational Psychology

To me, Black History Month is a celebration of how far I've come in disappearing the shame around my identity, a season to honor our ancestors and their hidden contributions, and a time of reflection on the work still to be done.

Rachel Williams, '19SPS, M.S. in Strategic Communication

Black history month is a celebration of our ancestors and their excellence, motivation to always strive for the greatness that lies beyond our current circumstances, a sense of community, the task to create better paths for our successors, and the constant reminder that; without black history, there would be no history.

Rachel Oatis, '19SPS, M.S. in Nonprofit Management

Black History Month (BHM) for me is a reminder that Black is love and it has an undeniable unifying factor. With the outward exhibited forms of affection and love during the month of February, I reflect with others on why I’m so proud to be Black and love it. Don’t get me’s always a good day to be Black and a Black woman but, during BHM there’s a special recognition universally that is bonded to this feeling. BHM is an invitation for others to join in the ongoing celebration of Blackness. It is unity in its highest form.

Damian Murray, M.S. in Technology Management

Black history month is celebrating the positive impact and the contributions that we have given to the world. It's black history month, real-life documentation of what our people are cable of accomplishing no matter the difficulties. Anything is possible.

Kayden Molock, M.S. in Sports Management

Black History Month means the appreciation and acknowledgement of Blackness and how it permeates all aspects of society. It’s the recognition of people and a culture that transcends the racist and imperial formations of the United States. It is a celebration of Black men, women, nonbinary, trans, disabled folx. It’s a reminder that the level of reverence shown during this month is something that needs to be consistent the entire year. It’s a call to action to continue to advocate for and uplift those within society who are often pushed to the margins.

Meghan Sowersby, M.S. in Strategic Communication

Black History cannot be contained or limited to a month. But it is a good reminder of Black peoples’ indelible imprint on world history.

Mydashia Hough, SPS Student Advisor

Black History Month is about our ancestors, change-makers, and revolutionaries -- whose names we know as well as those unheard of and forgotten. For many, the fruits of their labor were never seen or enjoyed, and we owe many of our freedoms to their efforts. We often relish the stories and legends but should gift our gratitude to the human side of the individuals who dedicated parts of themselves to better our world, and to have this be a regular practice that extends beyond a month in February, but penetrates the very fabric of our educational institutions and society.

Melissa Miller, SPS Leadership Coach

Black History Month is an opportunity to proudly shine a light on the Black diaspora's multifaceted histories and unsung historical figures. BHM encourages us to recognize our past, evaluate our present, and plan for our future. Lastly, it galvanizes and serves as a reminder of the tremendous work we have to continue to do all year long towards eradicating social injustices.

Andrea Stokes, M.S. in Nonprofit Management

Black History Month is the opportunity to engage with and embrace the contributions set forth by the African Diaspora. It’s also an opportunity to understand the struggles Black people around the world face, but also celebrate our resilience. Most importantly, this month reminds me of the beauty of being Black, and the diversity of our people and culture.

Clement Gibson, M.S. in Strategic Communication

Black History Month is a time when leaders and innovators of this country receive their flowers for their sacrifices, hard work, and creativity in the United States. It is a time shed light on shaded truths (and lies) of the past and acknowledge those who blazed trails we may not see in textbooks, or hear in lecture halls outside of HBCU's. It is a time to say thank you to those who labored for the fruits we enjoy today.

Erica Davis, '20SPS, M.S. in Strategic Communication

Black History means taking ALL that wasn't given then and making opportunities for today--honoring those who entrenched themselves on the battlefield for me. Sign up! Sign up! Serve today as Black History Month is a precious reminder that there is still so much work to be done in our communities and identifiable progress that my brothers and sisters must make. 

Black History has a sharp edge of holding myself accountable to continue to build bridges between law enforcement and the community. 

Black History teaches me new ways to strategically communicate with someone who doesn’t look like me... understand me.

Black History will always be the book I read.

Chelsea Hannah, M.S. in Strategic Communication

Black History Month is an important time to celebrate the impact of African American culture in the past, present and reminds us of hope and opportunity for the future. This year, it means so much to me because my position as the Chair of the Youth Task Force for Meaningful Change at Universal Music Group calls for taking time during this month to highlight and recognize all of the achievements of African Americans within the music industry and inspiring others to carry on the legacy. Coming from a family of pioneers, this month also reminds me of the endless possibilities in the world to be so much greater. I look forward to matching the same energy of those that came before me and leaving an impact that is greater than myself.

Kandis Thorpe, M.S. in Social Work, School of Social Work 

Black History Month to me is about Black liberation and getting closer to my roots by acknowledging and highlighting the pioneers who came before us. It means to look at our past, present, and future as a collective and continuing the work our ancestors has started. BHM means an emphasis on literacy. It’s very important in learning Black history. To dig into the depths of what was left out of the history books and class curriculums is empowering yet sparks drive within me to continue my work of dismantling oppressive systems within my field of social work.

Joshua Mackey, Assistant Director of Student Affairs, School of the Arts

Black History Month means acknowledging, honoring, and celebrating the history of Black folks. I also see it as a time to shed light on how the Black community continues to advance culture, industry, and society, even in the midst of all the injustices we still face as a community.