Black student affinity groups and Georgetown University have scheduled almost 50 events celebrating Black history and culture, nearly double the number of events held last year, in observation of Black History Month this February.
The schedule of events was organized by the Black Leadership Forum, a coalition of student organizations that plan events that impact Black students on campus. The docket of activities this year includes speaker and discussion events, student reflections, office hours with administrators and social gatherings, among other programming.
Several of the events are collaborations between different student groups, which demonstrates Black History Month’s emphasis on unity, according to Georgetown University Women of Color Treasurer Jameela Sylla (MSB ’20).
“The overarching goal behind celebrating Black History Month is to further foster empathy, unity, and compassion within the Black community at Georgetown,” Sylla wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Considering our community is small but spread throughout multiple cultures, it is empowering to see us dedicate ourselves to supporting and uplifting each other.”
The events for this month are sponsored by a variety of groups across campus, including pre-professional organizations, residential communities, affinity groups, performance clubs and university programs, among others. Some events will also be co-hosted with other Washington, D.C. universities.
Many clubs, including GUWoC, are hosting new events for this month. The increase in events being held by student groups on campus shows the consistent progress student groups have made in engaging the Georgetown community in celebrations of Black history and culture, according to Sylla.
“From my perspective, each year’s Black History Month is better than the last,” Sylla wrote. “Each year, our organizations find bigger and better ways to further engage our community, and unify us all.”
The Ella Jo Baker Distinguished Lecture represents one of the most significant events. The event, which will feature University of Chicago professor of political science Cathy Cohen, who studies post-civil rights black politics and social movements, will be held in Lohrfink Auditorium on Feb. 20.
Black History Month also serves as an important reminder of the contributions of Black people throughout history, which can often be overlooked at predominantly white institutions like Georgetown, according to Whitney Maddox, assistant director of student leadership and racial justice initiatives at the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service.
“It is so easy and convenient for predominantly White institutions like Georgetown to have classes where Black authors are not on the syllabus, to have speaker events with not one Black person on the stage, and departments with no Black professors,” Maddox wrote in an email to The Hoya. “For so many, Black History Month serves as a reminder that Black people literally built the infrastructure of this country and contributed so much to its fabric.”
While some may question the existence of Black History Month when not all communities have similar heritage months, such a month is necessary as Black voices continue to be marginalized, according to Maddox.
“I have heard many people question why Black people get a month when other identities do not, but ask yourself what are you doing to ensure that Black people never have to advocate to be seen, heard or valued on this campus and in this world,” Maddox wrote. “When White supremacy is dismantled, then we can talk about doing away with Black History Month.”
While the events being hosted this month are important celebrations of Black history and culture, the Georgetown community should remember to foster an ongoing appreciation of Black culture throughout the year, the BLF wrote in a Feb. 10 email to the student body sharing the schedule of events.
“Throughout the month, we will actively appreciate the service, art, literature, innovations, and resiliency of Black people across the globe,” the BLF wrote. “It is important to remember that Black history is not just limited to the month of February, because the celebration of Black history and Black peoples’ contribution to the world is endless, immeasurable, and ongoing.”