Expanding Our Knowledge - Black History Month2018-02-01
Black History Month, established in 1926 as a week-long festivity coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, has transformed into an annual month-long celebration of African American culture and history.
Dr. Schvalla Rivera, Southern Utah University’s Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, explains the significance of the celebration.
“Black history is American history, in fact it is world history. The African diaspora is vast and includes people from every continent. Black history does not begin with enslavement, colonization or oppression. This rich history includes the founding of civilizations and languages; as well as the creation of arts, music and sciences.”
Dr. Rivera reminds us that far from being the “dark continent”, Africans were transcontinental explorers and traders.
“It is important that we all learn about history, so that we can understand and appreciate one another. When we recognize African and African American history we are not discounting other cultural history. We are in fact, expanding our knowledge of one another.”
Dr. Rivera encourages everyone to extend their understanding of the African diaspora beyond what they have been traditionally taught; and to learn about the contributions that African Americans have made to the state of Utah, this country and the world.
“Learning about and discussing this history adds to the beautiful fabric of the American tapestry. Furthermore, not recognizing the great contributions people of African descent have made and continue to make, allows for this group to be marginalized, underestimated and undervalued.” When people do not know their past, it is extremely difficult to aspire higher."
"Carter G, Woodson, who is called the 'founder of Black History Month,' said 'Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.'"
Each year, SUU embraces the tradition of celebrating Black History Month. With the theme ‘African Americans in Times of War,' events will be offered on campus to honor historic leaders of the black community, create awareness of other minorities and look forward to a brighter, more inclusive future.
Dr. Rivera’s research focuses on multicultural and international student affairs, diversity and inclusion, and racial and ethnic identity. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.