Expanding Our Knowledge - Black History Month

Expanding Our Knowledge - Black History Month

February 1, 20183 min read

Black History Month, established in 1926 as a week-long festivity coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, has transformed into a month-long celebration of African American culture and history. Today, Black History Month is celebrated in February on many college campuses nationwide.

Each year, Southern Utah University embraces the tradition of celebrating Black History Month. From February 1 through February 27, films, performances and presentations will be offered to honor historic leaders of the black community, create awareness of other minorities and look forward to a brighter, more inclusive future. All events are open to the public.

“Black History Month is for all Americans, and this year‘s theme is especially powerful” says Dr. Earl Mulderink, Professor of History and Director of the SUU Community Engagement Center. “This year in February 2018, we are examining ‘African Americans in times of war.’ We will have excellent presenters and movies that survey the history of men and women, soldiers and civilians, during many of America’s wartime crises.”

Dr. Mulderink reminds students of the opportunity to earn credit while studying black history. “Students can register for either History 2922 or History 3922 until the first day of classes on Thursday, February 1. After attending the presentations and films, each student will submit an essay on their experience. Each class is worth one credit and graded on a pass/fail basis.”

New to Southern Utah University, Dr. Schvalla Rivera, 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.'"

Dr. Rivera is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.

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