The month dedicated to the recognition of African American culture is upon us this February, and some Pierce College students and faculty are celebrating.
The beginning of Black History Month started in 1926 as a national history week for the African American people. This was originally scheduled by the Study of African American Life and History as the second week of February, to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Since 1976, it has been recognized by every U.S. President following Gerald Ford and his public call to action for the honoring of cultural achievements.
“I think setting aside time for events for celebration and hearing those stories is incredibly important,” said Professor Jacqui Cain.
The Black Student Union, a club created for African-American cultural appreciation, has created events for February based on the history of African-American culture. Understanding that the mission of Pierce College includes goals of diversity in higher education, acknowledging Black History Month is one of the many ways the college can appreciate different ethnicities.
Aysha Yates, president of BSU believes that Black History Month is an empowering month that serves as a reminder of the heritage and accomplishments in African American history.
“Black History Month to me is a month where we can highlight the achievements and the struggles that are behind the history of black people,” said Yates.
Before the abolition of slavery in 1865, America was built on the backs of the African-American people working under horrifying circumstances. After “Bloody Sunday” occurred in Selma during the Civil Rights Movement, leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, America underwent a large leap to equality with the authority of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
“Honestly it’s a great month to celebrate and just remind ourselves of where we were back then to where we are now,” said Yates.
The accomplishments and the work many African-American leaders fought and gave their lives for are important to recognize. Without minorities standing up for each other and reaching these goals together, America might not be what it is today.
“I know at Pierce College we have a commitment in our curriculum that we consciously think about–are we telling everyone’s story?” said Cain.
Cain served on a multicultural committee for two years at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California, a predominantly non-diverse college. She advocates for the celebration of cultural history and currently teaches Humanities 209, a Civil Rights Movement course at Pierce College Puyallup.
Cain also said that within the faculty she works with, one of their main goals is to design a curriculum that supports diversity at Pierce College and makes sure everyone is included.
If America is said to be a melting pot of races, cultures and orientations, then it is important to understand and respect the hardships that various ethnicities have had to face over the years.
Localizing this movement toward diversity, some colleges are making an effort to be more ethnically diverse.
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