BSC celebrates Black History Month

Graphic+by+Alexa+Jurado

Graphic by Alexa Jurado

This February marks the 44th anniversary of the proclamation of Black History Month. Marquette departments, offices and student organizations — including Black Student Council and the Office of Engagement and Inclusion — have been celebrating in various ways all month long.

According to the African American History Month website, Carter G. Woodson created the first week to celebrate black history in February 1926. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976.

“Since the inception, Black History Month is widely known to be a concerted opportunity to acknowledge, highlight and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to U.S. history,” Demetria Anderson, director of the OEI, said. “From my perspective as an educator, Black History Month at Marquette offers an opportunity to share additional enriching educational experiences.”

“(Black History Month) is about celebrating black culture and our ancestors,” Breanna Flowers, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and BSC president said. “Paying respect for what they have done for us.”

Lazabia Jackson, a sophomore in the College of Communication and vice president of BSC, said it is a journey to find your roots as a black person.

“You see the view of a person who’s racist, and you internalize it,” Jackson said. “Black History Month is a time to educate and showcase culture. … You gotta go beyond the history books.”

BSC is an organization on campus that strives to create an environment in which black students can flourish, according to its website.

“Black Student Council has a full calendar of events showcasing student and local Milwaukee area talent, as well as thoughtful discussions centered around the black experience,” Anderson said. “(They have) hosted a series of events … that highlight the arts and have hosted black culture dialogues.”

Jackson said he and Flowers, who are both Milwaukee natives, wanted to host events connecting the Milwaukee community.

“We’re both from Milwaukee, so we feel like it’s our city, but most of the time we feel like Marquette is like its own separate territory. (It) makes us feel like outsiders in our own city,” Jackson said.

Jackson said Marquette can seem like a white bubble, and because of this, BSC tries to bridge the gap between the bubble and the Milwaukee community.

“Milwaukee is a black city,” Jackson said. He talked about the diversity within the city of Milwaukee that is not necessarily reflected on Marquette’s campus.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Milwaukee is 38.8% black, followed by 18.8% Hispanic or Latino and 35.3% white, while Marquette is only 25% students of color, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis.

Jackson said BSC started off the month with “Black Love Week” discussion which explored media portrayals of black people and the way they contribute to internalized racism.

Flowers said that last week BSC had a bake sale and made valentines for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Other events included a Paint and Sip Feb. 11 at the 707 Hub, Poetry Night at The Brew Feb. 14 and a fashion show entitled “Remember the Times: Through the Decades.”

Jackson described the poetry night as “beautiful.” He said there was a greater turnout than expected, even with students from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“Everybody has poetry. I feel like everybody’s got a little something … and just need the platform to share it,” Jackson said. “Through poetry you’re able to share the short stories of different cultures.”

The fashion show placed emphasis on historical moments such as the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement and the impact of 90s movies and media on black culture. The event also featured art made by black artists.

“Through all of our events we show what our culture’s like, what we embody, what is instilled in us,” Jackson said.

OEI has also hosted several events for Black History Month.

Several BSC members went to the annual Black Solidarity Conference at Yale University Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. Jackson said black students usually have one of two options when going to college: a historically black college or university or a predominantly white institutions. Over 700 students from across the country attended the conference, primarily from Predominantly White Institution. Some of the topics were black feminism, educating youth and activism.

One thing Jackson said he noticed at the conference was the way other colleges and universities uplifted their black students and black student organizations in ways that Marquette does not.

“We all have similar issues as a PWI … (other universities) will talk about racist incidents on campus,” Jackson said. “What I’ve noticed is  ours get swept under the rug. … Their’s are matched with action.”

Jackson said he doesn’t see much that alludes to Black History Month on campus the way he does at other universities.

“We haven’t been reached out to about any event,” Jackson said.

“We get overwhelmed with all these events,” Jackson said. “One faculty member told us we’re doing the role of somebody that they would hire.”

Hearing that, Jackson said he hopes for more support or better funding.

Jackson said that when it comes to financial support and promotion, BSC is passed over.

The OEI has also celebrated Black History Month with several events.

The OEI had a Mission Week Gospel Concert titled “A Soulful Evening of Gospel: A Celebration of Gratitude” Feb. 8. Anderson said the Marquette University Gospel Choir opened the concert, which featured performances by award-winning recording artists Rudy Currence and Koryn Hawthorne.

The OEI hosted “The True Black History Museum” Feb. 17, which was a “traveling museum of artifacts” that told the story of black history. Afterward, the curator of the museum spoke at Soup with Substance, which is a recurring event featuring speakers on social justice and lunch of soup and bread.

Various events and discussions hosted by student organizations and the university will continue throughout the month.

This story was written by Alexa Jurado. She can be reached at alexa.jurado@marquette.edu.