Feb 032010
Authors: K.C. Fleming

Refuting an old joke voiced by many people across the country, Blane Harding, a prominent professor at CSU, said Wednesday that Black History Month is not celebrated in February because it’s the shortest month of the year. It’s in February because of the history.

After citing several historical events that occurred in February, including Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the time when the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, Harding said, “We don’t understand this. That’s why we need Black History Month.”

“February has a significance in African American history, and it’s always had a significance in African American history,” he told a crowd of people who gathered in the Lory Student Center Commons for CSU’s kickoff of Black History Month.

Though he also said that “(black history) shouldn’t be simply celebrated during the month of February, it should be celebrated year round.”

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Black History: Stories Untold,” and in keeping with that idea, Harding encouraged students to go out and find the stories of everyday black heroes –– those other than Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

“It’s not the stories of people who have done great things,” he said. “It’s not the stories of people who have done novel things. It’s the story of everyday citizens that have contributed to this country and that contribute on a regular basis to this campus that we really have to understand.”

Mayor Doug Hutchinson joined Harding at the kickoff, reading the traditional Black History Month commencement proclamation near the start of the event.

This was the fourth time Hutchinson has participated in the ceremony, and as a CSU alumnus, he said that he is glad the university has displayed openness toward other cultures.

“I went to CSU, graduated in 1965 and you could say — how is a polite way to determine this? –– that the diversity and this kind of broadened approach to things and these kinds of events, just really didn’t exist back then,” he said.

“So I think that’s a very healthy thing to do, I think it makes CSU a better university,” he said, “I think that it makes for a better educational experience for the students who are here,” he said.

Kennisha Ayers, vice president of Black Definition, the student organization sponsoring most of the events scheduled throughout the month, said that this year the goal is to get as many people as they can to participate.

“We want more people, not just African Americans, to come to the events. We want everyone to come,” Ayers, a junior sports medicine major, said.

“It’s not all just lectures and stuff, there are interactive programs all throughout the month so there are a lot of fun things people can do.”

In addition to Hutchinson and Harding’s short speeches, several members of Black Definition sang the “Black National Anthem” by James Weldon Johnson.

Staff writer K. C. Fleming can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:35 pm

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