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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students want more black history events

    The visibility of Black History Month events on campus has been minimal due to lack of funding, but students said they want the university to invest in more campuswide events.

    Kendal Washington White, acting director for African-American Student Affairs, said the tight budget of the department leaves directors no choice but to prioritize funding.

    “”People look to the centers to be all things to all people,”” Washington White said. “”Resources are limited and it comes down to, ‘Do we want to wear dashikis on the Mall or do we make sure students graduate?'””

    African-American Student Affairs hosted only one event this month, bringing the Los Angeles-based theatre ensemble Will and Company to perform “”Portraits of American Courage: African-Americans You Wish You Had Known”” on Thursday.

    Washington White said that African-American Student Affairs is choosing to remain focused on retention, academic support and student leadership development rather than hosting cultural events.

    “”Black history is American history. Rather than always looking to that population during this time, it’s everybody’s job to talk about and celebrate it,”” Washington White said.

    Christopher Veck, a pre-business sophomore, said Black History Month could be promoted better through the use of fliers and even ads in the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

    “”I think it’s the job of the cultural centers,”” Veck said. “”The administration should be worrying about the school itself and keeping that on track.””

    Theo Evans, a plant sciences senior, disagreed, saying he thinks the university as a whole should take a more active role in celebrating the cultural holiday.

    “”I think that if the university could sponsor more events rather then let it rely on the cultural centers and departments, then it would be more universitywide and more people would participate,”” Evans said.

    Evans said he uses Black History Month as a time to reflect on how his culture and people have advanced since the days of slavery.

    Evans also takes Africana studies classes to make sure black history is a part of his educational experience.

    Amjad Ali, a biochemistry senior, said more people should participate in Black History Month, but not enough people know about it in general.

    “”It’s very poorly publicized, except when you see it on BET,”” Ali said, referencing Black Entertainment Television.

    In honor of Black History Month, the UA Poetry Center is bringing world-renowned poet, writer and activist Nikki Giovanni to campus for a free poetry reading co-sponsored by the Africana studies department.

    The reading will be in the Modern Languages Auditorium Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.

    Africana studies will also present both speaker and film series on campus this month, though dates, rooms and speakers have yet to be finalized, said Ruby D. Shelton, administrative associate for the Africana studies department.

    Africana studies is also focusing on the greater Tucson community by partnering with the Tucson Unified School District’s African-American Studies Department to put 17 elementary and middle school students on 91.3 KXCI-FM to read about black history events and heroes, Shelton said.

    Julian Kunnie, director and professor for Africana studies, will be going to Cavett Elementary School, Flowing Wells High School and some TUSD schools to speak this month to students on black history and diversity, Shelton said.

    The National Pan-Hellenic Council, the University Activities Board, the National Society of Black Engineers and the Social Justice Leadership Center have also planned campus events for the week.

    Black History Month began in 1926 as Negro History Week. It was founded by Carter G. Woodson, a son of former slaves who spent his childhood working in Kentucky coalmines, according to www.infoplease.com.

    While Woodson was earning his doctorate at Harvard University, he noticed the black population was largely left out of history books. He then started Negro History Week to raise national consciousness of the experiences, achievements and heroes of the African-American community, according to the Web site.

    Woodson chose February to celebrate black history because both abolitionist Frederick Douglas and President Abraham Lincoln, who worked to end slavery during his term, were born in the same week this month, according to the Web site.

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