The origins of Black History Month can be traced back as far as 1915. It became an official holiday in 1976 during President Gerald Ford’s time in office with the aim to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history. Before being acknowledged as an official holiday, Black History Month was celebrated by many universities to honor different aspects of Black culture, important figures and relevant topics that may be overlooked.
In 2022, Black History Month is celebrated at nearly every college campus in America. California Baptist University has been celebrating Black History Month for over a decade with events that occur every February.
The Black Student Union (BSU) of CBU and Community Life staff came together to put on a Black History Month celebration event on Feb. 8 in Lancer Plaza. The event consisted of a talent showcase, traditional soul food and an art gallery.
Mia Tamayo, sophomore biomedical sciences major and Community Life intern, said the event is important to give Black students the space to express themselves freely and to educate others.
She said that Community Life intentionally set out round tables for the event to emphasize unity and to encourage students to come together as a community.
“Our goal was to provide an atmosphere for students to learn about Black culture and about Black history and to provide a safe space for our Black students on campus to showcase their talents,” Tamayo said.
One of CBU’s Core Four principles is to be globally-minded. Jordan Hill, senior political science major and BSU president, said the event demonstrates this principle on a local scale, giving students the opportunity to learn from their peers and to be open-minded, and to expand their knowledge about topics everyone may not understand. Hill also said that it was neat for his friends to have a space to share their unique talents.
“It is really cool to be able to give people a platform to share their experiences whether it is a song, step (dance) or a poem,” Hill said. “It is really cool to work with the campus of CBU and to bring everyone together for an event like this.”
Michaela Harrington, junior health science major, performed her poem “I Am Black and Beautiful” at the showcase portion of the event.
“I wanted to perform to celebrate and give some recognition to Black History Month, and to inspire other Black CBU students with my poem,” Harrington said. “I think events like this are important to recognize Black History Month and just show the beauty and the talent and the creativity that us African-American people have.”
The event featured more than just singing and spoken word, with one student going on stage to talk about his custom shoe and clothing designs. Zion Crockett, freshman pre-nursing student, said his decision to present was a last-minute decision. He showcased some designs and walked students through his process.
“Where I come from, there are certain people that I know who have a lot more creativity and imagination than me,” Crockett said. “They just never got the chance to fully express it. I wanted to give the opportunity to everyone searching for something to express themselves creatively — to just show what a glimpse of an idea can do.”
Black History Month events will continue in February with a showing of the remake of the Proud Family on the Recreation Center roof on Feb. 25.