By Grace Dille
To celebrate black culture and condemn racism on campus, University of Maryland is centering Black History Month around the theme “Reclaiming Our Voices” this February.
“Black History Month is a time when we’re able to remember what we’ve been through, what we’ve overcome in this country, and just to celebrate blackness and all of its different forms,” said Rachel Akins, this university’s black student involvement and community advocacy graduate student coordinator.
The celebration started with a “Black History Month Kick-Off,” which was held Feb. 1 at the Nyumburu Cultural Center and featured student speakers, entertainment and dinner.
On Feb. 15, MICA’s Latinx and Black Student Involvement and Advocacy Areas hosted a screening of “NEGRO: A Docu-Series on Latino Identity,” a film created by a black woman born to Panamanian immigrants named Dash Harris.
Harris said she wanted to explain the African Diaspora in Latin America and break stereotypes associated with Latinx or Hispanic culture.
The greater goal in continuing her project, however, is really for people “to get to know each other,” she said.
“Talking about diaspora, solidarity and coming closer to one another…the idea that we may think we’re so different, but we’re actually really not,” Harris said.
Angeley Crawford, a local high school Spanish teacher, invited Harris to speak to her class several weeks ago. Crawford said the visit was “instrumental” for her students, who took Harris’s words to mean “that what we’re fighting is white supremacy, not each other.”
“For the very first time in my life, I have walked away feeling like I am hopeful for this next generation,” Crawford said. “This is the work of self-actualization.”
According to Akins, University of Maryland’s black students often struggle with “finding a sense of community,” and “navigating situations that they might not have had to deal with before.”
For a complete list of Black History Month events, visit thestamp.umd.edu/BHM.