February is a full month dedicated to celebrating historical events in black culture; and to help celebrate, the Black Student Union will be holding a week full of different events to help educate the community, faculty and staff.
Taylor Johnson, junior public relations major and secretary of the Black Student Union, said she is excited about the events being held to celebrate.
“I like to think of this as an empowerment ceremony that reinforces our presence in history,” Johnson said. “Black history is not just a month in February, it’s every day.”
The first day of their program will consist of a tribute presented at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center.
The tribute will feature the national black anthem, poems, speeches and excerpts throughout the evening. It will highlight, not just the well-known icons, but also some of the lesser-known members of the black community that have contributed greatly throughout history.
Aaron Whitaker, graduate student psychology major and president of the Black Student Union, wants to draw attention to more of the positive aspects of black history rather than focusing on the negative with the events throughout the week.
“It’s a tribute program about our ancestors that came before us and acknowledging, celebrating and highlighting their accomplishments,” Whitaker said. “There is so much more than the negative struggles, we want to focus on the positive.”
Whitaker said the Black Student Union has been doing research on the historical figures and putting a lot of hard work into the event to have a more personal event.
“People are researching instead of having some generic program,” Whitaker said. “There are so many great things that black people have done before us, from law making to inventions of hair products and medicine. It’s a way to encompass not all, but a lot, of the accomplishments.”
During the program, those who attend will have the opportunity to look at pictures of these figures of history around the Great Lakes Rooms. Also, there will be a projector with images of historical figures during some of the performances.
The beginning of what came to be called Black History Month started as Negro History Week in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson.
Woodson’s goal was to educate people about the achievements made in black history and focused on the cultural backgrounds and achievements made in the black community.
“I’m hoping to see excerpts from Frederick Douglas and Malcolm X and Joe Frazier,” Whitaker said. “Not necessarily people we know but showcase a lot of different people.”
Another event in this celebratory week is a “slave auction” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb 16 in Spalding’s lobby.
The Black Student Union is helping to promote this event as a new and interesting way to open Northern’s students’ eyes into some of the darker sides of American history.
“It’s something we haven’t had like this before and we are hoping to open people’s eyes and give them something to enjoy at the same time,” Whitaker said.
In history, a slave auction was when slaves were sold to the person who bid the most money for them. African families were often torn apart because bidders went for the strongest, healthiest member.
Slave auctions were advertised by posters that were left around town. When the ships would arrive the slaves were taken off and placed in pens and made to look more healthy and sometimes they would be branded by hot irons.
Whitaker said members of the Black Student Union are hoping for a great turn out to the events.
“I’m looking forward to all the events because it’s something that I would be interested in going to if I was at any other school and they were doing something like this,” Whitaker said.
For more information on the week’s events or to become involved with the Black Student Union, email Taylor Johnson at [email protected]