Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating Black excellence and raising awareness of Black history. Kean University honors this month by showing support through events, discussions and programs. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), the National Council of Negro Women and the Pan-African Student Union joined together to kick off Black History Month.
The three organizations hosted a kick-off event on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month. The event’s main purpose was to educate all who attended on the existence of Black History Month in a fun and engaging way.
“Black History Month is an opportunity for Americans to join together in thoughts and action to celebrate the all too often understated achievements of black people throughout the month,” said Erin Lester, multicultural affairs program coordinator of DEI.
To kick off the event, Lester opened with a reading of the proclamation. The proclamation consisted of the university’s mission of celebrating Black heritage, the theme of Black Health and Wellness and the continuous need of inclusion throughout the campus. Lester also noted that Kean University continues to deliver on its promise of inclusion, diversity and representation in its students, faculty, and staff.
“It is the purpose of the Pan-African Student Union to unify all people of African descent into greater awareness of self,” Esi McNeil, president of the Pan-African Student Union said. “It is our mission to provide knowledge and empowerment to our pre-colonial roots so that we as a people may provide strength for the future.”
McNeil stood before her peers and shared the importance of Black history. McNeil shared that Black History Month was made a month-long celebration in 1976 thanks to the efforts of Carter G. Woodson. The president also recalled other significant information about the heritage and the important players in Black history.
“It is of most importance that we as a people collectively continue to honor our ancestors sacrifice, but not only celebrating today, or this month, but every day,” McNeil said. “We must pay respects to our ancestors by [continuing to learn] about our powerful history.”
The event also held performances whose act was dedicated to the heritage. Kean Gospel Choir did a rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Afterward, Khali Raymond, Kean Alumni, read an original poetry piece, depicting the black experience.
To conclude the event, everyone gathered at the clock tower to raise the Pan-African flag. In honor of Black History Month, everyone held a part of the flag to represent the community and unity of Black History Month.
While the kick-off is over, many more events are in store for the month of February. If anyone is interested in participating in events like these, the office of DEI is holding Black History Month events in partnership with the students and staff of Kean University.
"Black History Month is really dedicated to studying, honoring, championing the black community, not just this month, but every day they're active,” said Lester.