“What legacy will you leave?” Angie Paccione asked Friday at the closing ceremony for Black History Month.
Twenty people attended the ceremony, a sparse number compared to the opening ceremony that drew enough people to pack the Lory Student Center Sunken Lounge. Nevertheless, State Representative Paccione spoke passionately about black history.
“During black history month we talk about the legacy of those who came before us and what legacy we’re going to leave,” Paccione said before the ceremony began. “So I want to inspire (the people attending the ceremony) to leave their own personal legacies.”
Paccione explained that her mother is black and her father is white, so she sometimes struggled with estrangement and discrimination when she was younger. Born in the Bronx, she eventually earned a full-ride basketball scholarship to Stanford University. She came to Colorado to teach, where she currently teaches at CSU and simultaneously serves as an elected state representative in Denver.
Addressing the room speckled with people of several ethnicities, Paccione noted some words to live by: Live, Love, Learn and Leave a Legacy.
In addition to Paccione, members of African-American groups on campus also spoke.
Jennifer Williams Molock, director of Black Student Services, delivered an anecdote about what our world would be like without African Americans. We would have no refrigerators, electric lamps, typewriters, furnaces or a number of other inventions, because African Americans invented them.
“Although the month has come to an end,” Williams Molock said, “black history has not.”
Laura Martin, director of CSU’s Black Student Alliance, spoke briefly, as did Kieran Coleman, the interim assistant director at BSS.
Planning the events for Black History Month was an exhausting task, said Rachel Crees, a freshman human development and family studies major.
“We had a lot of events, but I still think more people could have shown up,” Crees said. “There probably should have been more promoting to get people involved.”
The gospel festival likely drew more people than any other black history event this month, Coleman said. He said around 360 people gathered in the Lory Student Center Theater on Feb. 23 to see several gospel singers perform.
Sunshine Workman, a senior sociology major who attended Gospel Fest, explained how the performance touched her.
“Gospel Fest was awesome; it was really inspiring and the music was beautiful,” Workman said. “It just really lifted my spirits.”
More than one person attending the ceremony agreed that Black History Month was a success at CSU this year.
“I think this was probably one of the better Black History Months that I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said Kellen Allen, a junior economics major.
As Paccione concluded her speech, she read an excerpt from “The Souls of Black Folk,” the book by W.E.B. DuBois that inspired the national theme of Black History Month this year. The passage spoke of birds beating their wings against barriers that try to hold them back. Paccione related the birds to African Americans who struggle to take advantage of opportunities.
“I challenge you today to beat your wings against those barriers,” she said.