For most, Black History Month is just another way to show appreciation to one of the many races in the United States. It highlights those most notable African American leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and Nelson Mandela. However, for some students here at BC, it means more than that. This is especially true to the African Student Association. For them, Black History Month is a way to focus on the historical aspect as well as what this month means to them now.
The origin of Black History Month actually starts back in Chicago at the University of Chicago. The idea came to alumni Carter G. Woodson who pushed to have the achievements of African-Americans promoted. There was another idea that a participant at the Black History Month event agreed with, that this was a time to promote major contributions by the black community. Truly, Woodson had hoped for a much larger awareness, so he pushed for an actual week of appreciation which turned into Negro History Week. Finally, Black History Month shows how much things have changed, as well as the country’s awareness and appreciation towards the African-American community here.
One of the many ways this community has contributed to society is its culturally rich music, which was showcased at the event at BC, where Michael Dudley (former BC staff), Marlette Buchanan and Amy Boera performed spirituals. For those who do not know, spirituals are songs sung with a Christian tone but entirely made up of African flair. Spirituals oftentimes told stories or, during pre-emancipation period, took on double meanings to slaves looking to escape. What is even more interesting is that these songs still exist today and, though may have different arrangements than from before, it only shows how deeply rooted and connected the African-American culture is. Even after this spectacular display of singing, audience members were treated to a few songs from the ASA.
When asking a few of the people from the event about what Black History Month meant to them, there were a variety of responses. Some wanted to address the achievements in the African-American community that were often ignored. Others remind them of their elders, while some enjoyed the excitement of being able to celebrate their culture. The ASA certainly had fun celebrating their culture, whether the members came from part of Africa or the U.S. They sang songs in their native languages, accompanied by traditional drumming. The ASA really motivates their members and wants to promote a sense of community because most share the background of going to college or moving to a new country, which reasonably enough is quite a stressful situation. However, together they are able to support each other and even reach out to others in the community who might not have that kind of support. Whether from Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo or even the U.S., this program serves as a showcase for African American culture.