With activities still on the schedule, the month-long series of events has already featured films on “The Help,” an empowering story about extraordinary women who create change in the 1960s South; “Life Above All,” a story about a 12-year-old South African girl who holds her family together after her baby sister’s death; and “Glory,” an account of the first formal unit of the United States Army to be made up entirely of African American men.
“We just want to honor black history and raise awareness of the accomplishments of African Americans,” said student organizer Alex Jentzen. “This event has something for everyone, not just African Americans. It’s universal for every race, and it’s a good time for us to reflect, not only on black history, but where and what we’ve all come from.”
During a special lecture on February 8, Dr. Mike Henry, president of the Mid-Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel, spoke to Bluefield College students about the origins of Black History Month. Using the theme, “Progress,” he also shared stories about the heroes, the triumphs, and the tragedies of African American history.
“Progress has been made,” said Dr. Henry, who also teaches at Southwest Virginia Community College. “Opportunities and programs are in place for African Americans to succeed. All we need to do is dream.”
In addition to progress, success, freedom and equality, Dr. Henry stressed the importance of an appreciation for Christian principles, including love, mercy and service to others.
“Are you a giver or a taker?” he asked the students. “The Lord has been good to us. We should be willing to be good to others. The happiest people I know are those who give of themselves.”
As part of the Dr. Henry program, three of Bluefield College’s most talented African American singers, Tehillah Johnson, Johnathan Penn and DeMarco King, offered musical selections, including African American spirituals and hymns.
“Our hope is to educate the campus community about black history and the accomplishments and progress of African Americans,” said Morgan Jefferson, another student organizer of the month-long celebration. “Everyone should celebrate with us.”
Events for the month also included a “Soul Train” dance party and a “Black-Out Poetry Reading with Soulful Jazz.” As part of the theme for the “Black-Out,” students donned all black apparel for the event that featured BC student artists, vocalists, musicians and speakers showcasing their poetry, essays, music, raps and rhymes.
“This was a great opportunity for everyone to listen to others and to express themselves, as well,” said Jefferson. “We were excited to see a few people from the community come and share with us, as well.”
All the events during the month were planned and organized by BC students. “That’s what made this celebration stand out is that our own students took the lead in organizing all the events,” said Dr. Gerardo Cummings, director of global education. “Some of our best and brightest students demonstrated their precious talents in music, sports and academics so that we might celebrate Black History Month.”