Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Celebrates Black History and Culture Through Monthlong Programming

Black student affinity groups have organized a series of events celebrating black history and culture and bringing awareness to present-day issues of race and identity in observation of Black History Month this February.

Among the scheduled events are panel discussions, movie screenings, student conferences and campus outings. This year’s itinerary includes 24 events, more than double the number held last year.

ASG/FACEBOOK | The Black Leadership Forum, a coalition of student groups that plan events for Georgetown’s black communities, has organized a series of 24 events in honor of Black History Month this February.

The schedule was organized by the Black Leadership Forum, a coalition of student organizations that plan events directed toward black students on campus. The goal of the month’s events, which are held annually, is to engage in the ongoing appreciation of the rich culture and history of black people around the world, the Black Leadership Forum wrote in a Feb. 7 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 Black Leadership Forum 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.”

The events are sponsored by student groups and organizations across campus, including the African Society of Georgetown, the Black Student Alliance, Georgetown University Women of Color, the Georgetown chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Caribbean Culture Center, the Minority Pre-Law Association, and Georgetown Aspiring Minority Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs.

Regina Titi-Ofei (NHS ’19), president of the African Society of Georgetown, said that events celebrating black identity, while concentrated in February, are also held year round.

“The month has been very eventful in terms of thoughts and reflections, making sure that we are always cognizant of the fact that February is the month that we must celebrate our blackness, and our Africanness, and our identity as part of the diaspora,” Titi-Ofei said. “More broadly, over the course of the academic year, we will do small things too.”

 Black History Month helps strengthen black communities on campus, according to Titi-Ofei.

“It’s also just a chance amongst black people to find time to mingle with themselves to celebrate their rich culture and to just do things, not to exclude other races, but for them to just have some time to say that, ‘Yes, this is time for us to really have a cause to celebrate our blackness,’” Titi-Ofei said.

This year’s celebrations come at a time when issues of race are at the forefront of campus dialogue. Students have continued to advocate for the descendant community of the 272 enslaved individuals sold in 1838 by the Maryland Society of Jesus to financially sustain Georgetown, with students hanging artwork in Red Square to honor the lives of the GU272 in September. On Feb. 3, the Georgetown University Student Association approved a referendum set for this April on a semesterly reconciliation fee of $27.20 that would go toward a fund to benefit descendants.

This year also marks 400 years since the first African slaves were brought to the continental United States, according to The Washington Post.

Black History Month encourages open-mindedness and a willingness to learn about other cultures, according to Marcus Board, an associate professor in the department of African-American studies.

“Black History Month, one of the initiatives, one of the deeper meanings behind it is to try and encourage people to care to know,” Board said. “Everybody is not gonna be super conscious of every issue or grievance in the world, but our willingness to actually learn about it — that I think is in the spirit and in the core of Black History Month.”

However, Board said that there is still room for further improvement, such as encouraging sustained dialogue about the university’s history with slavery and matters of race more broadly.

Black History Month is an important time to raise awareness about pressing issues faced by black people today, both in the United States and within the university, according to Titi-Ofei.

“We have to come to terms with the fact that racism still exists in a lot of places in this country and discrimination against people of color is real, and we need to acknowledge that as a university,” Titi-Ofei said. “We have miles to go in terms of reconciling with our past.”

The university must also do more to make sure that people of color on campus are heard, according to Titi-Ofei.

“For a university that claims to be working extremely hard to bridge that gap between different races and to make stronger and more concerted efforts towards their past with the slave trade, I think more needs to be done with having people of color on this campus and making sure that the voices of people of color on this campus are equally as valued as their white counterparts,” Titi-Ofei said. “Georgetown has a long way to go when it comes to that.”

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