Celebrating Black History Month

Kean University Commences Black History Month with the Proclamation Reading and Flag Raising

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Celebrating Black History Month
Kean University members hold up the Pan-African flag for the beginning of Black History Month.
Taylor Battle, Staff Writer

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. 

Before the raising of the flag, participants were welcomed to have refreshments that reflected Black cuisine while listening to the keynote speaker. The keynote speaker for this event was Retired-Executive Director of Africana Studies, Dr. James Conyers. Dr. Conyers shared the significance of togetherness in the community and how important it is to stand together in difficult times.
Dr. James Conyers.jpg

Retired-Executive Director of Africana Studies, Dr. James Conyers.

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. 

about the author

Taylor Battle, Staff Writer


Taylor Battle is a junior pursuing a major in English with a writing option. Taylor joined The Cougar’s Byte in Spring 2021 with the position of a Staff Writer. She has a passion for the arts including music, art, literature and theater. She also is dedicated to helping her fellow colleagues to the best of her abilities. After graduating Kean, Taylor inspires to start a career in either journalism or publication.