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“A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture” Event

Monmouth University’s African American Student Union (AASU) hosted a presentation titled “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture,” in Anacon Hall on Feb. 12. 

The event allowed audience members to view various presentations that paid tribute to the culture’s history and accomplishments

The AASU is led by President J’lyn Martin, a senior communication student, and Vice President Arianna Gordon, a junior biology student. 

The club’s mission is to provide a community for students with a common bond to recognize the cultural achievements of prominent black people in American history. 

“We really wanted to do our part as leaders of the AASU and celebrate Black History Month in a special way,” continued Martin.

“By hosting this ceremony, we intended to inform those who are uneducated about the tremendous achievements in black culture and the great people that helped make them possible,” said Martin.

“The culture is so rich and it is important that we teach students of the university about black culture,” he said.

In addition to a power point presentation that chronicled the history of African American culture in America, the tribute also included a recitation of the Negro National Anthem, poetry readings of such distinguished black literary figures as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” 

To close the ceremony, Martin recited an excerpt from a speech that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered at the University (then Monmouth College) 48 years ago. King spoke to a crowded gymnasium on Oct. 6, 1966. 

He detailed the struggles that black people have faced in the past and his thoughts on the future of integration and race relations in the United States.

It was during this speech that King delivered his famous line, “We have come a long, long way; but … [that] we still have a long, long way to go before the problem of racial injustice is solved.”  Martin noted that it was an honor to recite the same words that King spoke years ago.

Gordon said that the objective of the ceremony was to not only raise awareness about Black History Month, but to educate people.

“We are in a time where people know about Black History Month, but don’t really get the necessary exposure that they could be getting,” said Gordon. 

“We had a great turnout at the ceremony and I could tell that the audience was really submerged in the presentation. If even one person learns more about black history or black culture, then we definitely achieved our goal and it was worthwhile.”

Freshman biology student Dominic Chiarello said that the presentation made him realize all of the great contributions that African Americans have made to society. 

He noted that Black History Month is an important part of American society, as many great accomplishments often go unnoticed. 

“I thought it was really nice to see fellow students put their emotions into their various arts and being able to appreciate black culture through these students was something I’m glad I could be there for,” said Chiarello. 

“The presentation definitely raised awareness. There is so much black contribution to music, literature, and history and it is crazy that it gets overlooked so often. I found it really nice to learn more about achievements in black history and how the contributions of black culture make this country the melting pot that it is today,” he said. 

According to The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the 2015 National Black History theme is “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture.”  Observers are urged to recognize the great achievements in black culture from 1915-2015, including the triumphs in politics, literature, music, and athletics. 

Founded by Carter G. Woodson in 2015, ASALH is the leading organization for the promotion of African American culture.