BSU celebrates Black excellence this month

Hannah Jenkins, Contributing writer

In 1926, scholar and historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week.  “His intention was to promote the education of African Americans and to counteract racist indoctrination,” said Carter Wilson, NMU professor and head of the political science department. These are the fundamental principles of what has since grown into Black History Month.

Celebrated every February, it is a time for learning and reflection on the diverse roles African Americans play in this country.

“We cannot fully understand and appreciate U.S. history without an understanding and appreciation of African American history,” Wilson said.

It is for this purpose that NMU’s Black Student Union is hosting two special events this month: a showing of the movie “Detroit” and a talk by photojournalist Mel D. Cole.

D’Mario Duckett, senior medicinal plant chemistry major and president of BSU says that the main goal of these events is to promote interracial diversity.

“We want to see the diversity within the Black community,” says Duckett.  “I hope that they widen their view of what Black people can do in life.” 

He also encourages them to listen to speakers from the civil rights movement of the 1960s in order to understand their influences on those same issues today. 

For me, it’s learning about who I am,” Duckett says.  “Black History Month means a lot to me learning about where I come from, the struggles that my family or my culture has gone through and how we’ve grown … how to grow, I should say.” 

Duckett feels that many people currently want to see change in regard to racial injustices, but simply don’t know how to bring that about. 

I think reflecting on history is a good way to move forward,” says Duckett.  “Otherwise we’re just going to repeat it.”

Junior hospitality management major and Vice President of BSU Marlanaysia Rosser says that the theme of BSU’s events is “a toast to Black excellence.” In particular, she hopes that students will be inspired by Mel D. Cole’s talk and the chance to hear his unique story.

Rosser says that Black History Month is an opportunity for her to acknowledge her heritage and ancestors as well as to learn their backstories.  She also feels that it is important for students to educate themselves on racial injustices and Black history. 

“It’d be nice for someone to at least understand where we’re coming from and kind of know you are privileged,” Rosser says. “I feel like it is so that you can know what to say in the conversation.”

BSU will be showing the movie “Detroit” in collaboration with Campus Cinema on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 6:00 p.m. in Jamrich 1100.  Their second event, titled “Picturing the World with Mel D. Cole,” will also take place in Jamrich 1100 on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 7:00 p.m.

Mel D. Cole is a renowned African American photojournalist known for his black-and-white photography of subjects from hip-hop and behind-the-scenes for concerts to BLM protests and the Jan. 6 insurrection. BSU hopes that students will be able to learn about more influential people and highlight Black excellence throughout this February. 

“It’s about inspiration. Knowing that you’re going to get where you want to get when you want to get there,” Rosser said. “Just being able to hear someone else’s story. I feel like that personally makes me feel like ‘oh, wow, they did it so I can do it.'”