Gillian Fitzgerald | Staff Writer
With January over, Black History Month has begun and Duquesne’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), along with faculty and student organizations, will be hosting events throughout the next four weeks to engage the entire community in discussions and programs.
Over Zoom, Duquesne’s Black Student Union (BSU) kicked off the month with “On My Block,” an event intended for students to get to know one another, discuss the meaning of home and welcome them to Black History Month on Monday, Feb. 1.
Their upcoming events include a Trivia Night that will take place over Zoom on Feb. 9 to test students’ knowledge of Black history. Students are encouraged to come prepared to win great prizes for the first, second and third place winners.
BSU will also hold an event titled “Hip/Hop Music Culture Discussion” on Feb. 16, along with a showing of Disney’s new movie Soul — Pixar’s first with a Black lead character — on Feb. 26.
Throughout the month, Duquesne faculty and staff will also be holding several events for students, such as “What’s the Word Wednesday:” a weekly discussion on current events, trends and Black culture. Other events include “Structural Racism and Health Equity” hosted by the Center for African Studies on Feb. 18, a discussion on “Critical Race Theory — From Theory to Practice” by the Center for Student Wellbeing on Feb. 23 and Dr. Alydia Thomas’ “Colorism Conversation” on Feb. 25.
Other organizations on campus will also host events like yoga, a pageant and a service event during the month. Students can see a full list of events for BHM on Duquesne’s website under the Diversity and Inclusion page, along with involved organizations’ social media to find out where and when the events take place.
The origination of Black History Month can be credited to Carter G. Woodson — a Black historian and scholar and the second Black man to earn a Ph.D from Harvard University — and The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., the first international fraternal organization founded on the campus of a Historically Black College.
A member of the fraternity, John H. Burnell, was inspired by an address Woodson gave at the Fraternity’s Ninth Annual Conclave in 1920 to create a program that stressed Black history. What began as Negro History and Literature Week by the fraternity was transformed by Woodson into what is now internationally known and has been celebrated as BHM since 1976.
BHM takes place in February, as chosen by Woodson, because when it was Negro History Week in the 1920s, it was celebrated to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14).
The programs scheduled during BHM are designed to give students opportunities to learn, listen and be involved in conversations and activities that specialize in Black history in the U.S. By participating in programs focused on BHM, students are able to celebrate the historic accomplishments of Black Americans, educate themselves on the nation’s history and apply what they learn to today’s work towards equity and racial justice.