Bellevue College Celebrates Black History Month with Events Throughout February

Bellevue College strives to make all students and community members feel safe, ensuring that they have a place on campus. This February, BC is celebrating Black History Month with the central theme of “Resiliency: Empowerment of Black Women in History and Now.” Themes in past years include: “The Legacy of African American Leadership in Higher Education” (2014), “The Whole Story” (2015), and “Growing Healthy Roots: Health and Wellness through the Black Lens” (2022). 

Resiliency is a powerful part of Black history, especially when looking at the past obstacles Black women have overcome. Historically, Black women have faced discrimination based on gender and race. They have faced harm in the medical field with the aftermath from Jim Crow laws and racism in healthcare. They faced hatred during integration after the abolishment of segregation. They consistently have their voices silenced, which is why storytelling is so crucial in elevating Black Americans. Black women are, historically and currently, the most disadvantaged group, having to deal with sexism and racism. The goal of this year’s theme is to raise awareness about Black women in history who are potentially unheard of and those currently striving for a better future.

The opening ceremony of Black History Month at BC was presented by licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Raushannah Johnson-Verwayne, who presented the spoken word art of Tia Nache. The coordinator of all the events and Umoja Scholars Program Lead, Darnita Boynton Howard, said, “While it might be easy to continue to focus on pioneers that are in the history books or in the curriculum, history is truly made each day. We will continue to bring Black women to the forefront this month.”

In past years, the Black Employees of Bellevue College, the Black Student Union and Multicultural Services decided and planned the events. This year, in addition to the committee, the Congolese Student Success Association was interested in having an event where students can learn why Black History Month exists. On Feb. 9, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Presentation “Historically Black-The HBCU Tradition” had an interactive event discussing the importance and history of HBCUs today. So far, Boynton Howard said that she is very pleased with the interest and attendance of events and hopes to see the momentum continue. 

On Feb. 15 from 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. in room D106, Professor Michelle Jackson from the Sociology department will be leading the “Origin of Black History Month” discussion. This event will discuss the origin and factors that led to the creation of Black History Month.

BC is also doing an outing activity called “Black Hockey History Night” on Feb. 18 at 6:00 p.m at Climate Pledge Arena. This honors Black achievements in sports to make hockey more inclusive, and event participants will get to see the Krakens compete against the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 p.m. The event deadline to sign up closed on Feb. 6. 

At the Self-care Summit on Feb. 23 from 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. in C130A, participants will focus on ways to support women of color and mental health. 

Lastly, on Feb. 28 from 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., there will be a hybrid “Honor Your Crown” closing program offered both over Zoom and in the C Building Cafeteria. There will be live music and a workshop where artist and poet Kiana Davis will discuss the Crown Act and hair discrimination. 

It is important to acknowledge and participate in Black History Month, especially since racism is still prevalent today. In Florida, those in power are trying to implement a banishment of books in schools regarding cultures, races, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Additionally, the AP African American Studies curriculum has been rejected by the Florida governor. This is one example of efforts to dismantle diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the Florida school system. Black history is US history, and it is important that we continue to learn more. 

The theme of resilience is prevalent in the past and today. Boynton Howard expressed, “Our narratives and experiences matter. I am glad that Bellevue College continues to support the efforts of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am grateful that Bellevue College recognizes and celebrates the diverse, rich heritage of our students, faculty, staff, and community. May we continue to be resilient as we face and overcome adversities impacting our lives.”