February marks the 39th official Black History Month. The first official year for the culture’s awareness was 1976. Black History Month is recognized not only in the U.S., but also in the United Kingdom and Canada. This celebration of African American history has been both praised and criticized for its implications in American society. Some view it as a wonderful celebration of history and culture and believe that it serves as a beacon of America’s progression away from societal segregation. Others claim that it unfairly limits the celebration of the culture’s history to only one month and believe that black history should be honored throughout the year.
Regardless of these opinions, Black History Month is a chance for African-Americans to inform others about their heritage. The Black Student Union (BSU) is doing just that amongst students, spreading awareness about historical heroes and teaching lessons that can be derived from America’s history.
“With Black History Month, the BSU intends on educating the Leland community by telling powerful stories that discuss African American history in addition to putting up different posters around campus. Black History Month is a time when the achievements and importance of African Americans are highlighted. It’s a time to learn and appreciate the significance of the African Americans not only in America but around the world,” Sophomore BSU President Makeda Simmons said.
The club focuses on the achievements of African Americans and helps bring those that share a background together during lunch in E-8 every Wednesday.
“The purpose of BSU is to bring our school’s black community together and provide a safe place to discuss our common culture, the struggles we still face and our background. We want to remain unified and not forget who we are and where we come from,” Simmons said.
These students enjoy meeting together in a place where they can talk about and celebrate their culture while also giving back to the community. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one of the members, Sophomore Julia Samuels , organized a Martin Luther King Jr. fashion show, an event that many of BSU’s members promoted to the public. Members also spent time volunteering at the show, which also served as a fundraiser.
Looking ahead, the BSU has plans that revolve largely around community service. They hope to work with 4others, an organization that has annual drives that pack food for the less fortunate and fundraise for children in Ethiopia. BSU members say that they hope to work toward overcoming the prejudice and racism that still exists today. BSU will continue to spread awareness of these issues, starting at the school.