Black History Month celebrated at the UMass Campus Center

‘It’s just one month out of twelve that the shine is on us’

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By Maria Elena Little Endara, Assistant Social Editor

On Friday, as Black History Month came to an end, the University of Massachusetts Campus Center was filled with students celebrating black culture and pride during a Black History Month showcase.

Organized by the UMass Black Student Union, the showcase featured performances from guests DJ Gee Smuney and DJ Wonka, as well as performances from various cultural dance groups and a fashion show.

UMass junior economics and informatics major Alain Duplan began his own clothing line in 2017 after his senior year project became a business. The Brockton native, who designs “affordable street-wear that everyone can be proud to wear,” had his collection displayed by the various student female and male models as they walked down the runway.

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“I’m excited to see the diversity of talent that these students have at UMass. It really represents how special we are as African Americans and just black people in general,” said freshman marketing major Robert Skinner.

Since 1976, the month of February has been designated as Black History Month. It is an annual celebration of the achievements made by African Americans as well as a way of embracing black culture and the black community.

“Black History Month to me means being able to thrive in a country that is pretty much what we would say is white dominated,” said Skinner. “Celebrating the fact that we are in this together as a community, we are all trying to keep this country moving forward in terms of equality and social justice.”

“It’s a celebration of being black and knowing that you’ve made it this far in life because people don’t want you to make it this far,” said sophomore neuroscience major Bianca Pierre. “You celebrate what you’ve done and the people that have paved the path for you.”

For freshman natural sciences major Dimitri Charlot, the event was a chance to connect to his roots and his community. “I’ve been going to a private school that’s predominately white my whole life, so I like to get in tune with my black culture. It’s just important to celebrate because it’s just one month out of twelve that the shine is on us.”

It is also an opportunity to exhibit the diversity of black culture, according to junior informatics major Trust Okorie.

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“Black History to me means appreciating just how diverse black is. A lot of times people narrow down black to just African American or black to just African. But black spans so many different cultures and people,” said Okorie.

Pierre said she enjoyed all of the performances “because black culture is so diverse, it’s not just one thing.

“You have African culture, Nigerian, you have Caribbean, you have everything. Even modern U.S. culture. I just love seeing all the passion.”

For some of the attendees, despite the celebratory atmosphere, the struggles faced by black students on campus is not hidden nor should it be ignored.

When asked what she wished the University would do to make black culture feel more celebrated, Pierre responded that it was transparency.

“Usually if there is an incident or anything that happens in which black people don’t feel celebrated, they kind of shove it under the rug, but I feel like if they talk more and there’s more of a community of talking, that would just be helpful,” said Pierre.

“I know [the BSU] have to fight a lot to reserve venues and reserve spaces to have events like this,” said junior biology major ChiChi Uche, “so not to have such a fight, to have performances like this is important.”

Maria Elena Little Endara can be reached at [email protected]