Through campus events and exhibits, Sacramento State students are celebrating Black History Month as a way to commemorate African-American history, culture and contributions.
Jonique Fields, a design major who celebrates Black History Month every year, attended several campus events, including a Feb. 6 lecture by best-selling novelist Terry McMillan on the power and impact of writing.
“(Black History Month) is a time to celebrate the African-American culture, the history and everything we’ve overcome and been through in this country,” Fields said.
Ethnic studies chair Boatamo Mosupyoe said Black History Month represents a few weeks to learn about African-American history by connecting to the past and making it relevant to the 21st century.
Black History Month is not just the history of African-Americans but of everyone, she said.
“The history of the United States is not sufficiently inclusive,” Mosupyoe said. “If it was sufficiently inclusive, there would not have been the need for Black History Month.”
America has a history of excluding ethnic minorities which includes Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans, she said.
“If the history is written by people who have excluded, then they are going to write it from their perspective, but their perspective is not the only perspective,” Mosupyoe said.
Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month, was first established by Carter Woodson in the 1926 to bring public awareness to the history, achievements and contribution of the African-American community.
Woodson originally chose the second week of February, because it included the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, who were both associated with the African-American social movement.
In the 1960’s, this one-week event grew in popularity, and it became an entire month celebration.
Mosupyoe said the ethnic studies department was first established to give different nationalities representation, but nationwide ethnic studies are under attack today.
“It makes some people feel discomfort,” Mosupyoe said. “But if your history makes you feel uncomfortable, you have to learn to live, to be comfortable within your discomfort so you have the whole picture of your history.”
Mosupyoe is also the Co-director of Cooper-Woodson Enhancement Program at Sac State. Named after Woodson, the program promotes student success through community service, individual mentoring and lectures.
The program was established more than 18 years ago as a retention program and has a success rate of 99.9 percent, Mosupyoe said.
Maria Muganzo, a junior deaf studies major said Black History Month was established to bring consciousness to the contributions of African-Americans.
“Today many students give no importance to Black History Month and have knowledge of only prominent people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks (and) Harriet Tubman,” Muganzo said.
Muganzo believes that besides African-American icons people do not know enough about black contributors.
“There are black inventors that helped make some of the technology that helped make cell phones, the stop light and the washing machine,” Muganzo said.
Muganzo said Black History Month represents black culture, but the official goal is to bring equality among all groups, ethnicities, nationalities and for all of them to have representation.
“Even though (it’s) black history, it’s just not (for) people that identify themselves as black,” Muganzo said. “It’s America’s history. It’s black history, yes, but it’s in America.”