The Center for Diversity and Inclusion has coordinated multiple events for Black History Month. However, the CDI said they are concerned about the diversity of the attendants of the events.
Events include a worship unity service, Jeopardy night, a Mental Health Summit and more.
The CDI has worked with several organizations such as Phi Beta Sigma, the National Association of Black Accountants, the Association of Black Collegiates, the Student Activities Board and more.
The last event for the month will be the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Dinner, which was postponed earlier in the semester because of the rise in COVID-19 cases.
The CDI has also highlighted Black Truman State University alumni to show their career paths and build community.
Saint-Rice, the director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, said Black History Month is an event that everyone can participate in and be a part of.
“So many times we isolate this month and only look at it from a Black culture perspective, but Black culture goes into all the cultures of the United States,” Rice said.
“It’s a critical component of building this country,” Rice said. “So when we look at music or we’re looking at the scientific inventions, or we talk about industry, when we talk about entrepreneurship, when we talk about culture, food, all that, right, that’s Black history, and that’s America’s history.”
Rice said all identities should celebrate Black History Month.
He said especially since the civil rights movement laid the foundation for other groups, particularly marginalized groups, to have rights they otherwise would not have received.
“Civil rights opened up doors, it opened up opportunities for all individuals, individuals who have LGBTQ identities, all these different spaces where people can have their voice and be authentic, so when we say Black history is everyone’s history, it really is,” Rice said.
Moriah Thompson, a student worker at the CDI, was responsible for organizing the events and creating the calendar.
Thompson said the events were mostly planned by the members of the different organizations involved.
Thompson said she has been to all the CDI Black History Month events so far.
“I feel like the events we’ve had so far are very beneficial, especially to the community,” Thompson said.
The CDI does events year-round about Black history, Thompson said.
“28 days we acknowledge the Black people but, like, 365 days I’m Black,” Thompson said.
“I think the misgiving about only saying for the month, it really does not show the impact and how, just how for 365 days a year, you’re celebrating this culture that is so rich in tenacity and the willingness to persevere through oppression … and still being resilient enough to persevere through that and have this sense of pride and culture, that’s what we see with Black history, right, we see people who are resilient,” Rice said. “That’s why I think [Black History Month is] important.”
The CDI has been making an effort to get more representation from all of the members of the Truman community at the events. The events are open to all Truman community members, not just people of color.
Rice said there hasn’t been much attendance from other groups outside of the CDI.
“Quite honestly, you know that’s disheartening to see the lack of support, right,” Rice said. “It continues to perpetuate the divide that exists, and so it’s almost as if ‘Ok if it has the title “Black” then that means only Black students can come,’ and that’s not the case.”
“I think that there needs to be more fairness, there needs to be more equity when it comes to participating in all things … just like we see Black history is only celebrated one month …, but what we recognize and we can appreciate that when we celebrate diverse cultures … we all grow,” Rice said.
“We really need to do a better job of bringing together the Truman community to be a part of all events,” Rice said
Rice said he wasn’t sure why more students aren’t coming and why there’s such a divide. He said he would like to think students would find value and be excited about being part of what the CDI is doing.
Thompson also said not many people from outside organizations came to CDI events.
Thompson said she thinks part of the low attendance might be because they aren’t publicized enough. Though there are fliers and other publicity, it’s easy for students to miss them. This is also partially because of the nature of the events. As opposed to big events on the Quad, the CDI’s events are typically in the evening in a single room.
Thompson said many people involved in the CDI will go to other campus events but that is not reciprocated to CDI events, so their community has shown up for each other, making a difference.
Thompson said she thought it would benefit others to come to CDI events.
“I feel like it would definitely lower anything that would be problematic, anything that we see on this campus that is offensive or anything on this campus that we would like to change,” Thompson said.
Thompson said that though she has mixed emotions about Black History Month, overall she enjoys it and sees it as a time to learn and a time for people to get involved.
Thompson said for students who haven’t been involved in the CDI before but want to start, they can stop by the CDI office and talk to a student worker, talk to Rice, be aware of the events, attend them and show support.