By Renee Smith, Assistant Director of Engagement and Intercultural Programs
“Black History Month is a time of celebration. All month long, we celebrate the achievements of all Black men and women who have had a part in forming Black society. We remember these important people and events that are part of history, giving today’s African Americans hope for the future.” – this quote from Clarke student Kaniyiah Mattison ’22 is a brilliant definition of what Black History Month is about.
Black History Month is a celebration; we are celebrating our history that has been filled with struggle, achievement, resistance, intelligence, innovation, and success beyond our ancestors’ wildest dreams. One way of celebrating is through support. Clarke’s B.L.A.C.K. Student Union recently supported a local LGBTQIA organization, Key City Pride, by sponsoring seven students to attend the Third Annual Black History Month Drag Show.
Fellow Clarke student Darius Hernandez ’23 said, “Black History Month is the remembrance of those who fought for their voice and culture to be heard.” He’s right, because in many instances in history, attempts have been made to erase Black voices and culture. We do not stand for it; and it is that resistance and persistence that we celebrate. In the midst of racial injustice, which has been a part of our history since slavery and has been further spotlighted in the media and online, Black history continues to evolve. Members of the Dubuque community, as well as those across the country have continued the work of bringing awareness and change for the equity of Black Americans.
It’s also important to remember that history isn’t just stagnant or old. Clarke student Sean Caesar ’23 expressed, “Black history is important because I am a product of it. I don’t just leave it in the dust because it’s what I am. History should be accounted for all the time, not just one time. This month is for celebrating, but the other 11 months of the year are when we truly put in the hard work. We ask others to take time throughout the year to learn about our culture and the inequities we face as well. We invite all to celebrate with us during this time.”
This month, the B.L.A.C.K. Student Union is presenting a series of virtual and in-person events. For example, “Being a Person of Color at a Predominately White Institution” on February 16, as well as “Police Brutality” on February 23, at 7 p.m., via Microsoft Teams. In collaboration with the Clarke Activities Board, the group is hosting Comedian Kiry Shabazz on February 20, in the Student Activity Center at 7 p.m. On February 26, the annual Black History Month Legends Banquet will feature a presentation on Tuskegee Airman Captain Martin, a Dubuquer, for whom the Dubuque Airport will be renamed. Lastly, the B.L.A.C.K. Student Union, will host a Throwback Skate Night at Skate Country on February 27 at 4:30 p.m. All in-person events will follow strict health and safety guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.