To help kickoff Black History Month, on Wednesday, February 1, 2017, the Pan-African Student Union (PASU) and Student Organization (the full-time undergraduate student government) hosted a flag raising ceremony and celebration.
The flag raising was held outside the Miron Student Center (MSC) by the clock tower, while the rest of the celebration was held in the lobby of the Center for Academic of Success (CAS) and the Karl and Helen Burger Gallery.
Dr. James Conyers, director of the Office of Africana Studies, spoke before the flag was raised to a group of Kean University students and faculty members. To help remember those who have fought for the rights that African Americans have today, Dr. Conyers took the time to express his thoughts on how some things still have not changed.
"No matter where you are from, you are African people and the struggle is still the same," he said.
Dr. Conyers continued his speech by saying that education is an important tool.
"Each one of you [is] to pick up a book and learn something and then educate somebody else," he said "Don't be ignorant. Education brings out the full person...brings out who you are."
And then the familiar red, black and green flag was raised. For those who did not know, Dr. Conyers explained what each color represents.
"Red represents the blood that we have shed in our struggles, not just in the continent of Africa, but everywhere. The black represents who we are symbolically as black people. And of course the green represents the greenness of our homeland Africa," Dr. Conyers proudly stated.
Ashley Winrow, freshman communication public relations major, commented that Black History Month to her is something that she always looks forward to and "it shouldn't go unnoticed."
After the flag was raised, the crowd moved to CAS to enjoy some beverages, food, art and music. Many of the artifacts there were wax prints. There was also African clothing on display, all of which showed just how colorful the African culture is.
Also, attendees learned about African Americans who have influenced society in one way or another. For example, Mahalia Jackson, also known as the Queen of Gospel, sold millions of albums and made the gospel genre known throughout the world with her international tours. It was a great learning experience for many.
"Black History Month is very important to me," said Ketoura Williams, sophomore criminal justice major. "I can take away their pride and dignity," Williams continued, as she described what Black History Month has taught her.
Dr. Conyers said, "Rosa Parks delivered a message: whatever you want to do, whatever you believe in, go for it. Don't hold back."
The Office of Africana Studies will be hosting several events to commemorate Black History Month, To learn more about the events, visit the Office of Africana Studies' Cougar Link page.
A full calendar of events for Black History Month at Kean University can also be found online at www.kean.edu/bhm.