February is commonly known as the month of love because of Valentine’s Day, but it is also designated as Black History Month. Black History Month is a time of reflection and celebration of African American history. It aims to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society — such as activists and civil rights pioneers including Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. In honor of Black History Month, we conducted interviews with Hope students to see how they celebrate and observe Black History Month.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Simone Greene (’25), a dance major, says that what she looks forward to during this time is celebrating her culture and history with her people. Greene mentions that it is interesting learning about the history of slavery. She specifically says, “I find it intriguing how slaves that came here had their culture taken away and built their own culture as a result of African enslavement.”
Jaela Leavy (’25), a communication major, defined Black History Month as a well deserved celebration of Black leaders and important figures . A fact that Leavy learned was that “ it started off as three weeks and was later expanded to a month because it was too short.” Leavy also mentioned that growing up, she enjoyed hearing stories about African American culture, which built her understanding of black history from a young age.
On the other hand, Annaleah Lacross (’25), an English major, mentioned that Black History Month is “an opportunity to acknowledge and educate herself on African American history.” Lacross says that, because it was not usually enforced in school, she uses this time to actively educate herself by reading and watching content about African American history. She was compelled to take this initiative because of the lack of knowledge she had about the history of African Americans in addition to recent social justice issues — she was intrigued to learn more about black history.
What does Black History Month look like on campus?
At Hope College, the Center of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and Campus Ministries hold different events to celebrate Black History Month. These events include educational movies, word and worship night and an open mic night. Leavy, Greene and Lacross said that they enjoyed going to these events and experiencing Black culture in a fresh perspective. They also mentioned that they look forward to attending the rest of the events on campus that have not happened yet. However, they stated that they would have liked for more advertisements around campus to spread awareness about Black History Month, so that more students are reached and could participate in the events. Nevertheless, both Leavy and Greene stated that it is helpful having the CDI, especially during February because it provides the students with the space and resources to celebrate Black History Month.
“I think Hope is good at making the effort, but it’s mostly students that are celebrating it and not staff,” says Annaleah. She adds on by saying that it would be helpful for Hope to bring in outside speakers so that students and staff participate more in celebrating Black History Month.
As Greene mentions, “Black History Month is something that should be celebrated because it brings awareness to the history and culture of African Americans, which is a part of American history.”
For more information about coming events of Black History Month visit: https://hope.edu/offices/center-diversity-inclusion/student-organizations.html