Campus, News

Q&A: What does Black History Month mean for Black people?

In honor of Black History Month, Africana Studies professors and Black Business Students Association (BBSA) members discuss what the month-long celebration means to them.

The history of Black people has been hidden and sanitized, according to Dr. M. Keith Claybrook, co-advisor of the Black Students Union.

“Black history has been minimized and marginalized for a long time,” Claybrook said. “Black History Month is the effort towards correcting the misinformation and focusing the lens on contributions, history, and struggles of Black people.”

49er: How do you celebrate Black History Month?

Claybrook:

“I read, write, and speak about Black History. It is not my information and history to hoard– it’s my information and history to share… I honor those who came before me and who will come after me that have carried the Black legacy from the past to future generations.”

49er: How did Black History Month come into existence?

Claybrook:

“Black people had been celebrating Black History Month before it was nationally recognized.”

The effort to create Black History month began with Carter G. Woodson, a Black American historian, author, and journalist, Claybrook said.

In 1926, Dr. Woodson launched Negro History Week to coincide with Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas’ birthdays– two historically influential people to the Black liberation movement. Negro History Week was later expanded into Black History Month, officially recognized by President Gerald Ford.

49er: Do Black people celebrate Black History Month?

Aquila Jacquette, president of BBSA at CSULB:

“We are Black every single day. It’s not something we can change or take off… That is why we celebrate other Black people. A win for one is a win for all, and when one of us loses, we all lose.”

49er: How do you like celebrating Black History Month?

Aquila Jacquette, president of the Black Business Students Association (BBSA):

“One thing I love to do in February is wear all black and wear my hair out… It’s my way of honoring Black Panthers.”

49er: What do organizations like Black Business Students Association do for Black students on campus?

Maran Yilpet, external vice president of BBSA:

“We exist as a way to make Black students feel seen but also empowered to navigate a white supremacist-dominated business world. It’s hard to get your foot in the door, and when we bring other Black professionals to encourage students, we show students they can be successful.”

49er: How do organization leaders at CSULB feel about fake allies only showing up in February?

Chanda Moore, internal vice president of BBSA:

“I am not Google, my emotional labor is not free. Are you going to be a fake ally or accomplice? Are you going to talk and do lip service or are you going to hold my hand and help me?”

“The reason why BHM is so important is I grew up with my grandmother talking about segregation,” Moore added. “For us, it’s not far removed, it was not that long ago.”

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