Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Black History Month at Furman: An Invitation to Celebrate Black Excellence

Courtesy of Furman Athletics

February at Furman means that everyone comes together to celebrate Black culture and realize Black excellency in our community.

More than a celebration, however, Furman’s NAACP President Shekinah Lightner points out that Black History Month “looks at the past to inspire the future.” By recognizing Black achievement in the past, Black History Month aims to encourage achievement in the future.

This year’s Black History Month Celebration is particularly important. “With our current political climate it is just really, really weird some days to see that people are ok and you’re not,” Student Diversity Council President Chelsea Joseph emphasized. As race relations in the United States reclaim headlines, Black History Month is a reminder that Black people, despite regularly confronting racism, have made and continue to make countless contributions to American society.

This reminder especially resonates at Furman. Although Furman has a complicated history with Civil Rights, currently “Furman´s Administration and the school overall is really pushing for diversity, ” Lightner stated.

Both Joseph and Lightner agree, however, that we still have a long way to go, especially in terms of inclusion. “We have increased our diversity a lot, but I think we need to work on the inclusion part,” Joseph said.

Considering Joseph’s statement, this year’s celebration was designed to commemorate Black excellence, address current challenges facing the Black community, and open a campus wide dialogue focused on the importance of inclusion and diversity.

Chelsea explained that the programming was meant to highlight different aspects of the Black community. The Black Girl Magic and Black Masculinity CLPs, for example, are aimed at appreciating the strength of Black women and understanding the way certain slave-age stereotypes still effect Black men.

Lightner also pointed to events that were created to incorporate the entire Furman community into the Black History Month celebration. The White Allyship CLP is “really important for Furman because it is majority white,” Lightner says. Speaker Sam Whiteout, a caucasian male involved in black activism, asks the important question of “how does the White community come into conversations about the state of Black people in America?.”

Despite their efforts, advertisements and undeniable success, Joseph and Lightner expressed frustration that not all Furman students were involved with the festivities. “We don’t just do these things for Black people,” Lightner said. “I want to integrate the rest of the community into it because there is no progress and there is no true inclusion if we are not going beyond people who look like us.” Chelsea added that it is about “bridging the gap.”

Clearly, there is a consensus between Joseph and Lightner, the SDC and the NAACP. They agree that Black History Month is important and powerful, but they believe that it can only be a truly transformative month at Furman if the entire community gets involved.

Upcoming opportunities to participate include the Black Masculinity CLP on Feb. 26, the Cotton Road CLP on Feb. 28, and an Open Mic Night at Coffee Underground at the end of the month.

“Celebrate with us!” Joseph urges. “Come and listen to what students have to say.”

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