By Noemi Vargas, Feb. 16, 2021
Cal Poly Pomona began the month of February celebrating Black History Month virtually. Throughout the 28 days, various events are being planned to honor the African American community and their achievements.
Promoting culture and diversity, many campus leaders, like African American Student Center’s Interim Coordinator JD Dantzler, take it upon themselves to share resources to help the campus community engage and learn more about the significance of Black History Month.
“Part of the reason why is to stop forcing Black bodies into a box where it is very one-dimensional,” Dantzler said. “In addition to educating and getting future leaders prepared, we’re also bettering our campus environment by having a campus that is aware of Black issues and issues regarding other communities of color. It also allows for a richer dialogue and richer educational experience.”
Throughout the month, the African American Student Center will celebrate Black History Month by hosting virtual events that aim to educate students on African American culture, including the annual Blerd Week and the Social Dialogue Program.
Blerd Week, which intends to recognize and celebrate nerdiness within the Black community, will feature exciting virtual activities, including book exchanges, trivia games and discussions about Black representation portrayed in media.
During the Social Dialogue Program, participants will also have the opportunity to tune into open discussions led by well-known guest speakers.
Dantzler not only focuses on educating the CPP community, but also continues to grow personally alongside her family and friends by engaging in events, watching films and reading books about Black culture.
Along with the virtual events hosted by the African American Student Center, students can educate themselves on Black history by streaming movies through Kanopy, a platform that provides free access to all campus community members.
Among the wide selection of educational films, “I Am Not Your Negro,” a 2016 documentary film directed by Raoul Peck, explores racism in the United States through novelist James Baldwin’s recollections of famous civil rights leaders.
Emmy-award winning documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” is another compelling option for students to stream as it illustrates the Black community’s continuous effort to fight against discrimination and segregation in America.
“It is about centering our Blackness and utilizing the time and space to connect as a family and do a year-end review,” Dantzler said.
Black History Month sprouted in 1926 as a week-long celebration in February called Negro History Week. Eventually, the growing support in education led to President Gerald Ford’s official recognition of Black History Month in 1976.
Qui’ana Lockett, a first-year communication student, is also in tune with African American culture and actively celebrates the monumental moments in Black history. According to Lockett, her upbringing at home helped her grow into an open-minded individual that helped her appreciate learning about Black History Month even more.
By streaming films and engaging in discussions about African American culture, Lockett realized that Black students are more prone to face racism, which is not acknowledged enough, she said. Though some of the acknowledgment comes with the month-long celebration, everybody’s history is important and worth understanding, Lockett explained.
“I definitely want us to get to a certain point in life where it’s a very inclusive community and it’s not just about one thing or one person or one group of people,” Lockett said. “At the end of the day, we all have to work together. We all have to see each other. We all have to live next to one another, so I think understanding everybody’s point of views and putting your opinion aside is really important so we can have a better future for our generation.”
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