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Intercultural Center to Host BHM Events

In honor of Black History Month (BHM), the Intercultural Center will host lectures, alumni panels, artists, and social events available to all members of the Monmouth community throughout the entire month of February. BHM’s national theme this year is African Americans and the Arts.

The Intercultural Center has 12 events scheduled, some of which are virtual. These events include “Amplifying Black Voices: A Community Forum;” a Black History Month Career Panel and Alumni Networking Mixer, which is co-sponsored by Career Development Center and the Department of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving; “Ladysitting,” which is a play at the Arden Theater; and Open Mic Night, which is co-sponsored by the student organization CommWorks.

According to the Intercultural Center, “Black History Month provides opportunities for all members of the University to explore the histories, legacies, and current contributions of individuals across the Black and African diaspora.”

Jihad Johnson, Assistant Director of the Intercultural Center, spoke about the thought process that went into planning these events. He began, “Before any true planning occurs for any events that the Intercultural Center hosts, we look to our community (faculty, staff, and students) for support. It is from their feedback and their input that drives our office to provide impactful programs all year.”

Johnson also mentioned that before any events, they hosted a campus-wide planning meeting. Here, they invited the community to share their thoughts and ideas on what they would like to see. From there, a large chunk of time is spent deciding how they can deliver the requests of the community. He continued, “Myself, Dr. Z (Zaneta Rago-Craft, Ph.D., Director of the Intercultural Center and Advisor to President on Diversity and Inclusion), Moofy (Mufrad Ahmed, Program Coordinator for the Intercultural Center), and our student staff are dedicated to improving inclusivity each and every year. We believe there is always room to grow and expand.”

When it comes to the way the University celebrates Black History Month, a couple of students shared their own opinions.

Aariana Flippin, a senior art student, believes the events help include people of different backgrounds in the community. Flippin also mentioned that there should be more exposure to the campus as far as just people of color. “It’s a month for celebration and learning,” she said. She additionally suggested that it would be nice to raise funds to visit a Black historical museum during the month, too.

Sekou Diabate, a junior homeland security student and Treasurer of the Black Student Union (BSU), appeared satisfied with how the University is celebrating BHM. He said, “The events are commendably organized, featuring a diverse array of activities and awareness programs. I eagerly anticipate observing their outcomes.” He highlighted the efforts of BSU along with the Intercultural Center and their commitment to fostering awareness, inclusivity, and understanding. He added, “I suggest that Monmouth considers enhancing its promotional strategies through targeted advertisements and additional activities. This would serve to highlight achievements of Black individuals and raise awareness about the challenges faced by the community.”

Brandon Muir, a senior health student and co-president of the Black Student Athletic Huddle, is anticipating the upcoming BHM events. He emphasized, “The events that BHM are putting out there are amazing! This leaves room for us to expand even more and greater events to come in the future.” He believes that the University is scratching the surface, leaving room for improvement in multiple categories of expression during the month.

Something that sticks out to him this year is the “scavenger hunt” for T-shirts. Muir added, “Being able to include social media was a great idea and the QR codes make it easier to scan and get more information. This leaves room for exploration for all the great other clubs and resources that we have in the Intercultural Center that many may not know about.”

Muir concluded, “I am proud of this University, and I’m glad to be able to say I am a steppingstone to big changes coming to the University.”