In the Forefront For February

Black History Month celebrations commenced with the flag raising ceremony and kickoff

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In the Forefront For February
Assemblyman Jamel Holley MPA '06 (center) joined students and staff for the Black History Month Flag Raising Ceremony outside of the Miron Student Center to officially kickoff Black History Month at Kean University.
Brandon Gervais, Editor

February is a time where people acknowledge the rich, unique and inspired history of the black community. As one of the most diverse public universities in the state, Kean has many different events and programs dedicated to celebrating Black History Month. The first of these events was the Black History Month Flag Raising Ceremony and Kickoff.

To begin the flag raising ceremony, President of Pan-African Student Society Kevin Preko opened the event with a speech about the significance of Black History Month. His speech concluded that Black History Month should be celebrated all-year round, but during the month of February we take special notice to the history and advocacy on its education and rights.

After the introduction from Preko, Dr. James Conyers spoke on the old traditions of African people and poured libations to honor those traditions, African people, its culture and its ancestors. 

Guest speaker Assemblyman Jamel Holley was introduced by Executive Vice President of Student Organization Caleb Lewis. Lewis presented Holley with a traditional dashiki. Holley urged students to use their resources and advantages to give back to the communities who have less opportunities than them.

After the raising of the flag, students were invited to step into the Miron Student Center (MSC) Atrium to experience the Black History Month Kickoff. At this kickoff, students could explore different aspects of culture by learning about music, art, tradition and the black icons throughout history in various fields. 

The atrium was decorated with tables with different activities for students to participate in. One being a table that let students create bracelets from colorful beads and string. They were able to create art for themselves and friends while food was served to them. The food and refreshments were reminiscent of traditional soul food such as mac and cheese, corn bread, rice and beans, chicken wings, collard greens, iced tea and more.  

Students creating bracelets with beads, stones and string. 

The Black History Month Kickoff event focused on relating Black History Month to Kean University, a university known for diversity. With this in mind, a wall with Kean's family tree stood for students to place cards with where they come from written on it. This board showed the university's wide range of students and their ancestry. 

Students filled out cards to place on a wall that showed Kean's Family Tree, showing Kean's wide diversity.

On the other side of the room was a long line of students eager to play the trivia game. Students spun a wheel and answered Black History Month trivia questions. If they got the answer correct, they  received a free t-shirt. 

The Who Am I game, which provided students with other prizes, asked students to pick a card with facts and historical accomplishments with a short description of an icon in black history. If students guessed who the person was being described they would win a free pop socket.

The Great Migration table let students write down where their personal journeys began and where it will take them.

The Great Migration wall encouraged students to write down where their personal journey began and where their journey will take them in the future. This was another way for students to express where they feel they have come from and where they want their past to guide them for their future.

"Black History Month is a chance for the whole country and the [Kean] community to come together to acknowledge and honor black culture. I love how Kean chooses to honor black history and how many different kinds of people are here to celebrate black culture. We forget how much of an influence it has had on our world. It is a month dedicated to education and awareness," one student said.

The Who Am I table challenged students on their knowledge of historical figures in black history.

Advertised at the kickoff was the upcoming Black History Month open mic night, "Roots". This event will be taking place Feb. 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Cougar's Den.

Be sure to keep a lookout for all of the events happening this February in honor of Black History Month. All of the events can be found on Cougar Link. Along with the events that are honoring Black History Month, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week of Service will be taking place from Feb. 19 through Feb. 24. 

This week of service is to appreciate the life's work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by working with the Kean community and the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) with a variety of service projects. Each service project requires pre-registration, so be sure to contact the CLS located in the MSC, Room 219 by calling (908) 737-5170 or by emailing

about the author

Brandon Gervais, Editor

Brandon Gervais is a junior English education double major. Brandon works as an Editor for The Cougar’s Byte and originally joined the staff as a Staff Writer in November 2017. He is a part of the Leadership Institute as a Gold leader and has worked as a New Student Orientation Leader. In his free time, he is a performer for a world class independent competitive color guard team and coaches the Union High School Color Guard.