Lack of involvement causes student concern


In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. No guest speakers, lectures, talks, or events were held for the holiday which has not been celebrated on Missouri Southern’s campus this month. The Joplin area was home to many great African-Americans including poet and social activist Langston Hughes and scientist George Washington Carver.

College campuses from sea to shining sea are alive with celebrations honoring some iconic patrons of arts, science, and politics this month, however, Missouri Southern has no activities planned to represent the national holiday of Black History Month. 

Some Southern students have stood up and questioned why Southern has no Black History Month events scheduled this year. 

“Why doesn’t the campus have any Black History dinners?” said Ty’Quan Hayes, senior quarterback for the Lions. “Where are all the spokes people…? Our campus celebrates everything else, can we get some love?” 

Missouri State University recognized Black History Month on their campus through the “African-American Heritage Ceremony,” an event where they have storytelling and plays about certain black historians that have overcome hardships.  

“We should have a poetry night to represent Black history month, it upsets me that we don’t have anything on campus,” said Alecia Herndon, junior psychology major.

Pittsburg State University held a “Gospel Explosion” which reached out to students that are Christian and love music. They will also be showing African American movies all month long including the 2015 movies “Dope” and “Straight Outta Compton.” 

“It’s almost a sign of disrespect because this school prides themselves on being diverse and intercultural but they lack knowledge of black history,” said Rolandeis Toliver, senior mass communication major and football player. 

President of the Southern Black Student Union (SBSU) Kendrick Carlock, sophomore mass communication major, reached out to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA) with an idea to team up with SBSU to promote new ideas for black students at Southern. 

“It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with SBSU and to support a new organization on campus,” said Natalie Grecu, assistant professor of communications and PRSSA advisor. 

Unfortunately, the only black student organization on campus hasn’t done anything to enlighten students or bring information to campus for Black History Month. 

SBSU did not offer commentary on the Super Bowl 50 halftime show controversy, a performance from Coldplay, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars. Beyonce performed her hit single, “Formation” 24 hours after releasing the music video, which documented what happened during Hurricane Katrina, and in Flint, Mich. While most people praised her social commentary about racism in America, many people disagreed with the superstar acknowledging black power. 

Black History Month was never intended to make people feel uncomfortable; instead this holiday has caused controversy around the world, often on colleges campuses. Despite the intentions, a misunderstanding of what the month is all about can lead people back into the dangerous world of 1915. 

Black history month is a month set aside to learn, honor, and celebrate the achievements of African-American men and women throughout history. The origins of Black History month can be traced back to one man: Carter G. Woodson. 

Woodson, an amazing man in his own right, was a scholar, educator, publisher, and historian. He promoted the idea of “Negro History Week,” which was held during every second week in February. Woodson chose the second week of February because that week included the birthdays of two important leaders, President Abraham Lincoln, February 12 and Frederick Douglass, February 14. 

The idea caught on quickly and Negro History Week transformed into Black History Month in 1976. The month long celebration is now observed in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) began to produce posters and lesson plans for educators to help bring Black History Month into schools.

Southern is located in Joplin where famous black figures were born and have birthed ideas that have left a stamp on this community and the country. Langston Hughes an African-American poet, novelist, innovator, and patron of the Harlem Renaissance is a celebrated Joplin native. 

George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Mo. is a park that has been dedicated to Carver for being a scientist, educator and humanitarian. 

The background of Joplin has helped shaped Southern, but campus is slacking when it comes to this profound holiday. People must remember Black History Month isn’t just for black students, it’s everyone’s history.