Black History Month came to SRU under the theme “Remembering our History; Building Our Future” and was celebrated with a variety of educational events, including those hosted by the SRU chapters of the Black Action Society (BAS) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
SRU’s BAS chapter president, senior exercise science and philosophy major Donald Robinson, 22, has been actively involved in BAS since his sophomore year. He was inspired to evolve and change the club and was elected president his junior year.
Robinson said it’s important for people to embrace and learn about all cultures.
“We should celebrate Black History Month because it is American history and part of what made this country what it is,” Robinson said.
SRU’s NAACP chapter president, junior social work major Raekelsha Moss, 21, emphasized that SRU should celebrate Black History Month because black history is everyone’s history, she said.
“As a campus we should celebrate and learn more about the different histories and cultures that make up the population on SRU’s campus,” Moss said. “And that’s not limited to just ‘white’ or ‘black’ history.”
Moss was first interested in becoming a member of NAACP during her freshman year, she said.
“When I saw their passion and how the minority population came together, especially during the Trayvon Martin demonstration, I knew this organization was about educating, advocating, and taking a stand,” Moss said.
Moss explained that coming from different backgrounds can be hard, but the group tries their best to come together.
“The biggest struggle for black students at Slippery Rock is that most of them come from booming cities like Philly, Pittsburgh, or Erie,” Robinson said. “We make up less than five percent of the population here, and on top of that are thrown into an extremely rural area. It can be quite the culture shock.”
Robinson said that celebrating Black History Month is important because most students aren’t involved in it before coming to the university.
“Everyone knows the basics, like the issue of slavery and Martin Luther King Jr., but here they’re shown that there’s much more to it and you can celebrate your culture in so many ways,” she said.
This year BAS introduced the events “Politics of Hair” and “Ready for Love: Open Mic Night.” Robinson’s said his favorite event was Politics of Hair.
“The topic inspired great discussion and got everybody talking,” he said.
At the event people talked about a revival of embracing natural hair in the black community and what caused this movement in the past few years.
Robinson said “Ready for Love: Open Mic Night” was a huge success and that the event was extremely well planned out and put together.
“We had a lot of talented artists, poets, and singers come, he said. “The turnout was great. Even if you aren’t black, you can still come and learn something. It’s for everybody.”
Robinson explained there is a diversity among the crowds in attendance at events and discussion is involved.
NAACP hosted “Open Your Mind” which focused on the “firsts” of the NAACP. This included things that the NAACP did to get black students into all white schools, including secondary education and graduate programs. They also hosted “Black? Fits the Description” and discussed famous instances of racial profiling and police brutality including those of Amadou Diallo, Emmett Till, and Rodney King.
NAACP also had tables that focused on the importance of safe sex. Once someone signed the safe sex pledge, they received a free condom and information on becoming a member if they were interested. NAACP will also set up the table during common hour on Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the student center.
“We try to make sure that our events and programs are interesting and educational,” Moss said. “Our first meeting is Monday, February 24 at 5pm in room 323 of the Student Center. Make sure you stop by! Everyone is welcome!”
Future events are listed on SRU’s website. Black History Month will conclude with the Ebony Ball, which will be held at 6pm February 27 in the Student Center theater. From Feb. 28 to March 2 students will also go on the Cultural Immersion Trip to New York City.
Robinson said he was especially excited to visit Harlem.