Organizations create Black History awareness

February is not only the month to celebrate two of America’s most famous presidents, but also the month to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans.

Black History Month is a time Americans have set aside to reflect on the historical contributions blacks have made over the years.

To help create awareness on campus, Missouri Southern held a couple of different events this semester and a diversity speaker is also scheduled. Jason Givens, senior CIS major, is president of Southern Impact and said the club helped with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast held on Jan. 20. The club has also been working with the Campus Activities Board to bring Malik Cooper to the College.

“We thought Malik would be a good person to speak on diversity,” Givens said.

Givens said it was his idea to bring Cooper, formerly on MTV’s “Real World,” to Southern, so he brought up the idea to CAB.

“We needed to do something for Black History Month,” Givens said.

It didn’t work out for Cooper to come during February, so he will give his presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 5 in Webster Hall Auditorium. Julie Blackford, director of student activities, said she knows Black History Month is important, but it can be difficult to plan a lot of events for it in February. She said sometimes it comes down to a “price issue” or the fact that there just isn’t enough time in between other activities.

Blackford said the month of February isn’t what is important.

“Blacks should be celebrated all the time, not just in February,” she said.

Participation from students can also be an issue when it comes to planning campus events.

“The thing that concerns me is when we’ve had other activities on campus that we got little to no participation,” said Dr. Gloria Faine, associate professor of education.

Givens agreed that turnout can be a problem when it comes to black awareness events, but another bigger issue is how often black history is taught in the classrooms.

“Is it being taught enough?” he asked.

Givens wants students to realize there is more to black history than the underground railroad.

“I think [black history] should be integrated into the mainstream of historical presentation,” Faine said.

As an African-American, she realizes that King’s accomplishments are well known.

“I also feel that we have had other people make equally significant contributions to the country, and most people are not aware of them,” Faine said.

In 1926, “Negro History Week” was established in part by Dr. Carter G. Woodson who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson chose the second week of February because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two individuals he thought impacted the lives of African-Americans, were born during that week. The week turned into Black History Month in 1976.

Faine wishes African-Americans could be presented in history in the same way as other Americans and not just by setting aside one month.

“But, some recognition is better than no recognition at all,” she said.

“My biggest dream is that [black history] would be integrated into the culture as part of the culture and not separate from the culture.”

“I think [Black History Month] is something that should be celebrated all year long,” said April Mundy, junior secondary education major. “It is something [the College] needs to pay more attention to.”

Christi Gowen, junior political science major, suggested spotlighting Black History Month in the library with black authors, in Reynolds Hall with black mathematicians and in Spiva Art Gallery with influential black artists.

“It represents a time to learn about and celebrate the life and times of black historical figures,” she said.

“Black history shows for me, personally, what my background is, what my heritage is,” Givens said.

In the education department, Faine said she gears some of her assignments toward student exposure to African-American contributions, so her students can go on to teach about black history when they become teachers. She also is involved in a project at the George Washington Carver monument in Diamond. To learn about Black History Month, one can go to