We hope everyone had a wonderful month celebrating Black History in February. Founded by noted historian Carter G. Woodson, this celebratory month was created to grow awareness of the history and honor the achievements of Black Americans. The month-long holiday continues to uplift Black voices and celebrate individual and group contributions to the development and success of our country.
Black History Month highlights successes in the black community and it allows individuals from other cultures to have the opportunity to learn more about a history and a future of hope. We find that often in conversations surrounding black history, it can be limited to only well-known names, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. Black History Month serves as a yearly opportunity to educate our friends about lesser known, but equally important individuals in Black culture. Some of these figures include Bayard Rustin and Claudette Colvin. Rustin and Colvin played a significant role in fighting for Black civil rights.
Understanding the cultural significance of this national holiday, we wanted to know what it means to our leaders in DEI on campus. “This month means giving honor to my ancestors that endured the pain of not being seen as human, while also loving my black skin. I want people to understand Black history and how it has shaped America today,” said Deanna Williams, Special Advisor to the President for DEI. We have come a long way, but some Black Americans still face racism and discrimination in all of our large systems. “
“Black History Month is important for various reasons. Generally, Black history discussions are limited to slavery and cover some form of oppression. This month gives Black people an opportunity to really celebrate being Black, speak on the accomplishments of Black people and really highlight our excellence,” says Sierra McClellon-Hulsey, coordinator of multicultural programs. She continued, “Black History Month is also important because it gives non-Black individuals an opportunity to become educated on a culture that is often misinterpreted and appropriated in mainstream media.”
McClellon-Hulsey continued by adding that the Black Student Union (BSU) is “a student organization that prioritizes Black students on campus…by creating a space where Black students can be authentic, seen and heard.” Their mission is to bring awareness to and improve the experience of Black students at Fontbonne. Williams shared her experience as an alumnus, “Black student union is important to me because it shows prospective Black students that their culture is represented here on campus. There is something special about being surrounded by people that share the same history and culture.”
Williams shared some additional insight and said, “Black History Month celebrations have always been great at Fontbonne. The Black Student Union hosts multiple events for all students…Going to Black History Month events throughout my time at Fontbonne has been a joy.”
She said that as the special advisor to the President for diversity, equity and inclusion, she is most excited about providing new opportunities for faculty and staff to learn more about Black culture and engage in meaningful conversations.
Revised: March 16, 2023