February is Black History Month, which is celebrated each year at Stonehill. Black History Month began in 1926 when, in the Library of Congress, “Dr. Carter G. Woodson set aside a special period in February to recognize the heritage and achievement of Black people of the United States.” Since 1976, each US president has declared February Black History Month. Stonehill began its celebrations in January, with a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Prayer Service hosted on January 23rd to honor his work through an interfaith service. Intercultural Affairs also hosted a viewing of the webcast “Presidential Symposium on Racial Justice in Higher Education.” The symposium discussed how to make sense of and respond to racist incidents on campus and how to practice self-care in times of racial stress.
Some Stonehill students learned more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and the Civil Rights Movement on their HOPE Service Immersion Trip to Atlanta, Georgia. The trip this past winter explored and discussed the issue of Racial Justice. Dan Madsen, a junior who went on the trip, returned home saying that what was most inspiring from the trip was “the power of nonviolence in the Civil Rights Movement.” Madsen feels that “The act of peaceful protest was singlehandedly the most important part of the Movement, and … this transcends beyond the Jim Crow era.” Dan and other members of the trip brought their knowledge back to both their families and the Stonehill community, helping us to celebrate this month and become more knowledgeable about the movement.
In February, the Stonehill Community has the opportunity to participate in a number of events that celebrate Black History Month and challenge us to think deeply about not just Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s history, but also current events. Visit the Upcoming Events calendar from the Office of Intercultural affairs to learn more about the upcoming performance from the Boston Black Choir; a talk by professor, author, filmmaker and educator Jamal Joseph; the Campus Blackout; training workshops, and more.
Outside the Stonehill College community’s celebration of Black History Month, other colleges hold similar events to celebrate this important history. In 2017, North Carolina A&T State University held their 57th Anniversary Sit-In Breakfast. It “commemorate[d] and “celebrate[d] the four N.C. A&T students who nonviolently sat down at a segregated lunch counter at F.W. Woolworth in Greensboro.” The University of Chicago has a Black Heritage Celebration every January and February for Black History Month. They start it every year in January with the Martin Luther King Jr Commemoration Celebration and it concludes in February with the Organization of Black Students’ annual George E. Kent Lecture.
MLK Jr’s legacy ask us to think about what it means to be respectful and considerate of one another. Two public organizations that Stonehill students have come to know, the Farmworker Assocation of Florida and the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, Florida, are doing just that. The HOPE CommUnity Center is the site that HOPE Apopka’s immersion experience is coordinated with. The center works with the Farmworker’s Association of Florida. To help celebrate Black History Month, together the HOPE CommUnity Center and the Farmworker’s Assocation are hosting a dinner and program on February 8th with Dr. Kitty Oliver to “embrace hope for racial understanding.” Stonehill students who have served with many of that community’s members will be thinking of them during their celebrating and continued work for justice.
To read more about some of the films available on campus that deal with African American History or feature the stories of people of color, read more here. We hope to see you at some of the upcoming events on campus!