Black History Month celebrated at Duquesne

Taylor Carr | Staff Photographer Amber Epps, known as HollyHood, gives a talk on gender and hip hop on Feb. 7 in Fisher Hall. The event was part of Duquesne’s celebration of Black History Month.

Taylor Carr | Staff Photographer
Amber Epps, known as HollyHood, gives a talk on gender and hip hop on Feb. 7 in Fisher Hall. The event was part of Duquesne’s celebration of Black History Month.

Liza Zulick | Staff Writer

A series of Duquesne events are being held to celebrate Black History Month this February.

Sponsored by Duquesne’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, events on tap include a Black Love Day Dinner, a bone marrow drive and a lecture from Leon Ford, a black man who was shot and paralyzed by Pittsburgh Police officers in 2012 in a case of mistaken identity.

To kick-off the celebration, Sto-Rox Elementary School students were invited to Duquesne on Feb. 4 to teach the youth in the community about black history. The Black Student Union is hosting a Black Love Day dinner Feb. 16 to recognize many students and faculty on campus, and to honor them for their accomplishments and acts of inclusion. Frankie A. Soto, National Poetry Awards 2016 Multicultural Spoken Word Poet of the Year, will be featured at this event.

On Feb. 7, Amber Epps, who goes by her stage name, HollyHood, held a presentation on gender and hip-hop. Epps is a rapper from the Pittsburgh area who has a Doctor of Science in Information Systems and Communications from Robert Morris University.

She began her talk by presenting a quote by Ava Duvernay, an Academy Award-nominated director: “To be a woman who loves hip hop at times is to be in love with your abuser. Because the music was and is that. And yet the culture is ours.”

Throughout her presentation, Epps focused on key parts of this generation’s hip hop. Epps said that most hip hop artists focus on degrading women, seeing them only as gold diggers, decorations, and meant to serve to boost the male ego.

Epps named examples of this behavior occurring in music by artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake and Nicki Minaj. She also pointed out throughout this music genre, men seem to be able to decide which women are worth respecting and which women are not.

“If you don’t like something, it’s up to you to make a statement,” Epps said.

Other Black History events were planned by the Black Student Union. However, the club does not believe these events should be celebrated only during the month of February.

“It was my family that took the time to teach me about all of the great things that black people have done in this country,” said Hope Wallace, president of the Black Student Union. “So yes, I do believe that Black History Month is a necessity, but if it is not taken seriously, then what’s the point is having it? Black History should be taught all year round, not just when February rolls around.”

Topics such as slavery, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks are often taught during elementary school, but days such as Black Love Day are often overlooked.

“Black History Month is one of those things that people really don’t prioritize like they should,”said Darian Reynolds, vice president of the Black Student Union. “Our black ancestors have contributed so much to this world and for their recognition to be limited to only one month is kind of crazy.”

Another event is “Be the Match-Bone Marrow Drive” on Feb. 21 in at room 109 in the Union, where students can donate bone marrow to help others in the Pittsburgh area. The celebration concludes on Feb. 27 with “Diversity and Inclusion Conversation: Intersection Between Laws & Reality.” During this program, attorney Ronald Wilson, chief diversity officer and director of social equity at Edinboro University will give a presentation to the public.

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