Feb. 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month and this year numerous groups are working to plan events to bring Elon students, faculty and staff together to remember the month’s significance.
According to Elon’s Black History Month web page, one of the main goals of the month’s activities is to promote awareness and understanding of Black experiences. Jordyn McAtee, sophomore and president of the Black Student Union, echoes this statement.
“I hope that during Black History month all black-identified students can come together with faculty and staff to celebrate their heritage, learn new things about the many cultures connected with the black community and feel safe and secure in their blackness, not only on this campus but in multiple areas of their lives,” McAtee said.
There are many events throughout the month of February to celebrate cultural experiences and identities. On Feb. 3, the Black Student Union will host an open-panel discussion “Being black and the Diaspora” from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space. The discussion will be primarily geared toward a conversation on what it means to have intersecting racial and ethnic identities.
Following the cultural conversations, on Feb. 14 there will be a West African dance and drum circle class from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in LaRose Digital Theater. The Black Student Union is partnering with Jason Aryeh, assistant professor of dance, for this open class to celebrate an aspect of Black culture and heritage.
Later the same week, on Feb.17, the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education (CREDE), will host the third annual Black Solidarity Day in Moseley. Black identifying students will be encouraged to come together to celebrate blackness.
McAtee said that, on a greater level, she sees this event as demonstrating what the campus would feel like without the presence of black faculty, staff and students. But this is not to say that other community members are withheld from joining.
“I also hope that people who are not necessarily involved in the black community as much as they would like to be are able to come together with the black faculty, staff and students and learn new things that will help them support the black community, particularly in this crucial time in our country,” McAtee said.
After successful Martin Luther King Jr. events in January, McAtee and the many others involved in planning Black History Month events hope to continue conversations about racial and cultural identities in a supportive manner.
Randy Williams, associate vice president for Campus Engagement, said he was pleased that Elon is taking the steps for a more inclusive environment.
“[I take] great pride in seeing the work that Elon has committed to creating a more inclusive community,” Williams said. “It is wonderful that we here at Elon advocate for students that are under-represented, while also educating members of more dominant communities.”