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Monmouth Gears Up for Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, Monmouth’s Intercultural Center (IC) is hosting and coordinating a variety of events throughout February including Black History Month Trivia Night, Dance Performance, Mobile Black History Museum, Black Alumni Career Panel, Chat & Chew, and Open Mic Night. These events aim to observe and celebrate the history, legacies, and current contributions of the African American community.

The Intercultural Center supports student organizations, academic departments, and administrative offices organize lectures, alumni panels, artists, musicians, and social events open to the entire campus community.

According to Zaneta Rago-Craft, Ph.D., Director of the Intercultural Center and Advisor to the President on Diversity Inclusion, these events are not limited to a single month of celebration.

“At the Intercultural Center, we work alongside students, faculty, and staff partners throughout the year to create a shared collection of events that are both educational and celebratory across the University. There are many groups and offices on campus who have contributed to the month-long series of events, and we work to uplift them through funding and marketing support,” began Rago-Craft.

“There are programs that include lectures from leading internal and external scholars, artistic performances, career advice, social and community building programs, and opportunities for dialogue,” continued Rago-Craft, “However, our mission and day-to-day work focus on supporting the overall success of historically underrepresented groups on campus extends well beyond the month of February, as it should.”

“There is something for everyone, and everyone is welcomed,” concluded Rago-Craft.

Jihad Johnson, Program Coordinator for the Intercultural Center, emphasized the importance of such programming, especially in regard to Black History Month.

“It is important to celebrate Black History month and black people because their contributions have shaped the history of our country and nation,” started Johnson.

President Patrick Leahy, Ed.D., concurred, “The celebration of Black History month allows us to focus additional time, service, and scholarships towards recognizing the many contributions of Black Americans for the betterment of society. As a liberal arts institution, we have a particular responsibility and commitment to celebrating the heritage of marginalized groups throughout history. And, perhaps more importantly, our campus experience is enriched by the diversity of our community.”

Morgan Alston, senior communication student and President of Monmouth’s Black Student Union (BSU), said, “I believe that Black History month is extremely important to celebrate, especially on a liberal arts campus, because it is an opportunity to explore, learn, and give attention to African Americans that have made impactful contributions to the U.S. and to what surrounds us.”

She elaborated, “It honors those who had helped us create a new life surrounding equality for every and anyone, no matter the color of their skin.”

The Black Student Union is an educational, political, and social force on campus that represents and advocates the concerns, problems, and image of black students. The purpose of BSU is to provide a forum for students with a common bond to come together and support one another by sharing the cultural achievements of Black people within the University community.

“There is a direct link between what affects one and what affects another, which is why Black history is important. The problem does not belong to one particular group, it belongs to the entire human race,” explained A’liah Moore, a current BSU club member, “The purpose is to commemorate the excellence, perseverance, and contributions of people who have been overlooked and forgotten.”

Johnson likewise addressed the hesitation non-Black students may have in participating in these Black History Month activities. “Many times, people think just going to an event is enough, but being present means while in attendance you are soaking in the information and thinking about how you can be a better advocate and supporter of underrepresented populations,” Johnson said.

He continued, “One thing I can guarantee is that each time to step into the IC, you will not only feel welcomed but empowered to be a better ally and advocate. If you want to do and be better the IC can support the growth you are looking for.”

“I encourage everyone to participate in these special programs and events to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the many significant contributions of not only Black Americans, but also our Black classmates, colleagues, and friends. Our university is made richer by having a vibrant and active community of Black students, faculty, and staff, and we are dedicated to supporting them in their academic and professional pursuits in February and year-round,” said Leahy.