Black History Month on Campus

Bri Lopez, Editor

As Black History Month comes to an end, what better way to celebrate and gain more understanding than from our fellow students here on campus? This month has been full of learning opportunities and events, such as the Black entertainment night on the 23rd of the month. With that being said, as we close off the month, a couple of people are hitting the spotlight this week, and they are none other than Quinci Flowers and Alisha (Ali) Saucedo. Both are very strong females of the black community here on campus, who have been recommended by their peers. They have played huge roles in leadership positions, Quinci being the president of BSU here on campus as well as being a part of the track team, and Ali being the Vice President of our new Women of Color Allegiance club as well as also being a part of the track team. 

An art piece depicting Barbara Johns famous quote “It seemed like reaching for the moon”

When asked about the things that she has learned about herself as a young woman of color, Quinci responded as such; “From being a 1st-year freshman to a 4th-year senior, I have noticed how much I bring to the table. To be transparent, I was initially intimidated as a freshman and struggled to figure out how to bring positive change to campus. I learned to use my voice in my 4 years at Saint Martin’s. After 2020 and the Black Lives Matter protests, I felt even more of an urge to start to bring change to SMUs campus. I learned that I am more than just Quinci. I am a voice and leader for women of color in stem majors and for young students of color whose opinions and frustration were never heard or considered. I learned that I am powerful.” Wise words from the queen herself on how she has changed and what has led her to become who she is now and who she will be in the future. 

Following behind, Ali responds with her role models and who has opened her eyes a little more to what life brings to the table by sharing, “My biggest role model has been my mom and my best friends Cher and Tory. They have demonstrated what it’s like to be self-less and empathetic and compassionate, even in the face of the biggest challenges. They have also reminded me of the importance of building memories and relationships amongst social justice and service lifestyle we’ve committed ourselves to.” A lot of times, parents are our biggest role models and so are the people we choose to surround ourselves with, there is a saying “you are what you eat” the same thing applies to friends and the people you hang around you tend to adopt the attitudes both good and bad from the people around you and Ali has chosen to adapt to the good and take with her the lessons she has learned and is still learning from those around her. 

Of course, we had to ask the BSU president what it’s like being an exec. to begin with. That is something that a lot of people want to do but don’t for various reasons. However, Quinci decided to take that leap of faith, and this is what she said about being SMU’s BSU president; “Being BSU President first of all has been such an honor. To be able to serve the black population of men and women on this campus has taught me that I am doing something bigger than just a club. I am leading a future community that will be here over the next successful years at SMU long after I am gone. Being BSU president has allowed me to make so many more cherished connections and memories with people of all backgrounds. Also being the president of an all-female-directed board has brought me so much pride and joy.”  It takes a lot to carry a torch, like being the president of a club, especially one that becomes a safe space for people to go and be their most authentic selves. 

When the two were asked about any advice that could possibly be given to any student here at SMU, this is what they said; “I would say that for one, do not be afraid to join clubs, go to events that interest you, and make connections.”(Q.F), “If you are a member of the Saint Martin’s struggling to find yourself, I encourage you to take a leap faith”(A.S), and  “Fighting against injustice still remains a crucial part of our social climate. Your voice matters and will always matter, you’d be surprised what can happen!” (Q.F). 

The History of Black History Month

Gilbert Smith, Staff Writer

Black History Month has not always been around, in fact, it is a relatively new thing. It all began as recently as 1915, half a century after the abolishment of slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment. In the September of 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and the minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the, “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent,” explains HISTORY. Today, the association is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). HISTORY continues, “the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926”. The group had decided to choose the second week of Feb. to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. This event led to the inspiration of schools and communities nationwide to organize celebrations, form history clubs, and host performances and lectures. Since the beginning of this event, the main focus was to encourage the teaching of the history of Black Americans in educational institutions with a focus on primary education. 

Originally, the overall reception was lukewarm, but Woodson considered it a great success. In the Feb. of 1969, the idea for Black History Month was brought up and promoted by Black students and educators at Kent State University. The next year was the first celebration of Black History Month on campus and local areas. Six years later, in 1975, Black History Month was being celebrated across the country, both in and out of schools, colleges, and community centers. In 1976, President Gerald Ford was the first president to not only recognize, but praise, Black History Month. Since then, every American president has proclaimed Feb. as Black History Month. Other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom dedicate a month to acknowledging and celebrating Black history. 

With each year comes a new theme that is given to Black History Month, this year being “Black Health and Wellness.” This year’s theme is dedicated to examining how the American Healthcare system has over-served and harmed the African American communities. The historical abandonment of the communities within the healthcare system goes back centuries and is still not fixed. Even today, the US chooses to stay behind the forward movement of the rest of the world in providing affordable medical care for its citizens. This puts African Americans and other minorities among the country’s most vulnerable communities, especially if they are poor. 

There are many people who are celebrated in Black History Month. There is Martin Luther King Jr. who is well known for his “I have a dream” speech and is celebrated for his efforts in the fight for equal rights and the end to segregation in all walks of life. There were also many firsts to celebrate with Thurgood Marshall being appointed to the court in 1967, Mae Jemison in space in 1992 and Barack Obama in the 21st century.

Black History Month Events 

There have been events on campus that talk about topics related to it that will have happened by the time this goes up like “Liberty and Justice for All? African-American History and American Democracy” on Feb. 9th in Cebula Hall. There most likely will be more events that will celebrate it on campus.