Campus News · Community News · Feature

Student organization invites speakers: Events highlight Black history

Evan Dalian

Managing Editor

As Black History Month comes to an end, students and staff reflect on what Black History Month means to them and the events that took place this month to celebrate. President of Black Student Association (BSA) Morgan-Alysse Black explained what Black History Month means to her.

 “It is a month of reflection from experiences both positive and negative that the Black community has experienced,” Black said. “It is a time to appreciate their contributions to the country and remembrance of what occurred.”

Student Government Association member Lupe Torres explained what Black History Month means to them.

“It’s appreciating who you really are,” Torres said. “What the color of your skin means to you. It is a good learning experience for me and learning more about what America really is.”

On Monday Feb. 14, ARISE, also known as African Americans Renewing Interest in Spirituals Ensemble, performed at the Andover Campus in the Kanza Room from 12 to 1 pm. The performance included one hour of storytelling and history about slavery and activist movements not only from the past but including modern slavery and movements today. A few of the songs they performed included: “We Shall Overcome”, “One Nation, One Dream”, inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s I have a Dream speech and “Ain’t Got Time to Die.” The last song stressed that they do not have time to die, for they are too busy praising the Lord.

The group, from Wichita, was founded in 1988 and led by Josephine Pace Brown until 2010. Shawn Chastain has served as choral director since 2011. The group typically performs concerts throughout Kansas, but on Friday, May 27, the group will represent Kansas at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for the National Memorial Day Choral Festival.

 “Our mission is to deliver the message that we can do something about the current injustices and make a difference by working together and understanding the needs of each other,” President Gerald Norwood said of the group’s mission.               

Member of ARISE and Butler alum Grant Overstake shared his experiences being a part of the group.

“We have had an opportunity to meet some wonderful people and sing some great songs,” Overstake said. “It is the spirit that unites us, the spirit of spirituals can cross all bridges and break down fences. The music can touch our hearts, that is why we are here today.”

Following the ARISE event, Director of Career Services Aletra Chaney-Profit hoped that exposure to Black History Month events would educate the college community.

“A greater knowledge and understanding of African American culture and maybe an appreciation when it comes to some of the hymns and songs,” Chaney-Profit said. “We want to share our background as we become a diverse culture her on campus but also in our communities. Exposure will produce that.”

On Monday Feb. 21, author Mark McCormick spoke about his book, “Some Were Paupers, Some Were Kings,” On Monday Feb. 21, author Mark McCormick spoke about his book, “Some Were Paupers, Some Were Kings,” on the El Dorado campus in the Welcome Center from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. McCormick, a former Wichita Eagle journalist, worked as a reporter, editor and columnist. His book consists of some of his best columns and stories when he worked at the Eagle. He is a New York Times best-selling author and has received over 20 industry and community awards. He served as the executive director of the Kansas African American Museum in Wichita before he joined the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in 2018, which is where he currently works to defend people in areas such as voting rights, criminal justice reform and juvenile fees or fines.

McCormick encouraged the audience to use their time wisely in life. He shared many tragic stories of events he covered as a journalist and the horrible things that happened to people such as a man who froze to death who was sleeping in his vehicle. He said that tomorrow is not promised and if we have a dream to go and do it.

From someone who lost both of his parents in the same month, McCormick said, “Approach your next day, month, year, decade, life with the same energy that I am approaching my next day, month, year, decade, life. Work hard, not to impress anyone, but work hard for yourself. Make sure you set short-term goals and long-term goals. Make sure you set those goals higher for yourself than anyone might set for you. Seek out the toughest advice, the hardest criticism and embrace both as a path to success. Most importantly, learn to separate your feelings from that advice. Get comfortable hearing what you need to hear and work to improve and to grow.”

After speaking with Campus Police Officer Glendale Henderson, he hopes students and staff understand that Black History Month should be celebrated by everyone.

“You can be the change and make the difference,” Henderson said. “If we want this world to be a better place, it starts with each and every one of us. It starts with love, it starts with respect, it starts with honor. Love conquers all. If we learn to treat each other like we want to be treated, we could change this world–one person at a time.”

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