February 1 marked the beginning of Black History Month, a time when we recognize the black men and women who made a difference in the world, present and future of our nation and the world for their accomplishments and deep-rooted history. Several organizations across Truman State University’s campus have been celebrating and reminding everyone never to forget the past in their own ways.
The Association of Black Collegians hosted several events over the span of a week dubbed “Everything Is Love.” With events such as Black History Month Brunch, A Family Affair: Kickoff Jam and Love Thyself: Vision Board Workshop, “Everything Is Love” week was full of reminders of affection for one another and themselves.
Aspiring to celebrate Black History Month, love and representation among all black students on Truman’s campus, ABC President Joy Johnson said “Everything Is Love” has been talked about since their first meeting of the semester and took about two months to put together.
“I think these types of events are important because they promote diversity and inclusion,” Johnson said. “And they create safe spaces for everyone to come to learn about Black History Month and black love.”
Johnson said Black History Month is important because it creates an environment where people are willing to learn about black people and culture. Johnson noted it is important to realize that black history is far more than slavery and Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a beautiful collection of culture and people that span for generations that live on even today.
Johnson said the week was very successful even after having to reschedule a few events because of weather. As ABC held its week full of love and warmth, the Women’s Resource Center made plans to present the incredible past of black women.
The Women’s Resource Center set up a table in the Student Union Building to feature several of the most empowering black women throughout history from Feb. 13-15. The table included bookmarks with the history and pictures of women to showcase their many accomplishments.
Allison Rice, staff coordinator for the center, said the center puts on different events or advertisements to celebrate women and men throughout the year. Rice said a particular member of its diversity committee was very passionate about making the table, and it was a large, collective effort.
As Rice continued to work with the committee, it opened her eyes to people who were different from her and those she might not have heard about. Rice said being able to research and learn more about these women was a blessing that the center will hopefully be able to share with the community.
As Black History Month comes to an end, Rice said it’s important to never forget and always continue to celebrate.
“You can really only do so much,” Rice said. “A thing that was brought up to me while we were talking in the center was that although it is important to celebrate during February, it’s also important to remember all the other months as well.”
As the Women’s Resource Center celebrated the black women of the past through tabling, a production called “Ain’t I a Woman!” celebrated them through performing.
Truman’s Interdisciplinary Studies program and Center for Diversity and Inclusion partnered up to bring “Ain’t I a Woman!”, a performance centering on the lives of four African-American women, to Truman’s campus Feb. 18. With emphatic performances and storytelling from the actors, the event was likely to strike a chord in the audience’s hearts.
Interdisciplinary Studies director Bridget Thomas said the production was riveting and really moved her. The stories were breathtaking and were able to bring a room full of people together.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to bring it to Truman,” Thomas said. “Because you can hear a story, you can read a biography … but to actually be confronted with the person telling her story is really effective.”
Thomas had gotten several affirmative responses after passing the idea to others in July 2018. Several organizations came together to help donate props and ideas to the event.
Thomas said it is important to remember the past so it isn’t repeated. She said the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a women’s rights and civil rights activist from the 1900’s, should be known to make sure everyone understands where society has been and where they wish to venture in the future. It’s essential to always remember those of the past who helped push the way to a brighter tomorrow.