University celebrates Black History Month

2/17/2011 - By: Carolina Chacon
Group of dancers performs at Black History Month step show. Here, a group performs during the 2008 Steppin’ with the Pack show performance, photo taken by Daniel Clark. The 2011 Black History Month Step Show will take place at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25 in the Student Union.

More than a dozen events hosted by at least five different African-American student organizations, the Black Culture Cooperative, celebrate Black History Month at the University of Nevada, Reno this February.

Events range from a breakfast, a fish fry, a bake sale and some mixers to a basketball game, a step show, discussion panels and educational competitions. All events are free and open to the public.

"Black History Month is celebrated every year," Jody Lykes, student development coordinator for the Black Culture Cooperative within the Center for Student Cultural Diversity, said. "But this year there are more events; they are heavily student-centered."

Greta de Jong, history professor at the University and author of several books studying African-American struggles against racism, discrimination and economic injustice, said Black History Month celebrations help not only to raise awareness about black culture but help "make up for the centuries of exclusion [of blacks] from the history books."

Two fraternities, Kappa Alpha Psi and Phi Beta Sigma, as well as Sisters on a Move (SOAM), Ambition Beauty Leadership Equality (A.B.L.E.) Women; Motivated, Extraordinary and Noble (M.E.N.) of Distinction and the Black Student Organization (BSO) are participating in the month's activities. Each group chose a week in February to present its own series of events celebrating black history and cultural awareness. The clubs began planning and preparing their events last November.

"We wanted to focus on black contributions made to every field in the history of the nation," Lykes said. "Black History Month is a time for us to remember the contributions made in the past and celebrate what they mean today and what's to come in the future."

Professor de Jong agrees. "It's important for all Americans to realize the crucial roles black people played in the development of the United States, and it's even more important for us to understand how the experiences of white and black people are connected."

Lykes added that ideally, students would reflect on black history all year, but Black History Month provides a unique opportunity for the black community to come together and celebrate its heritage with the Nevada campus.

Highlighted events include:

  • M.E.N. of Distinction hosts a "Who Am I?" competition featuring little-known black historical figures at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17 in the Joe Crowley Student Union Ballroom A.
  • Posters featuring historical African-American figures will be on display this week throughout the Student Union and will move to the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center next week
  • The Black History Month Step Show, previewing student groups' dancing moves before the annual competition in April, takes place at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25 in the Student Union Ballroom A.
  • A.B.L.E. Women hosts a potluck at 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26 in the Student Union Great Room to wrap up the month's celebration.

The Center for Student Cultural Diversity is a comprehensive cultural office providing outreach and recruitment, retention support services and co-curricular programming for prospective and continuing students at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Black Culture Cooperative, a collective of all the African-American student groups on campus, helps coordinate activities between different groups and find common goals.

"Everyone involved with the Center and the Cooperative does valuable work on campus aimed at supporting and building community among underrepresented students and breaking down racial barriers," de Jong said. "The events they have scheduled for Black History Month combine community service, consciousness raising, socializing, arts and education - all of these are great ways to further their overall mission."

Please visit The Center for Cultural Diversity: Black Culture Cooperative for more information..


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