University kicks off Black History Month on South Deck
By Shaheryar Khan
UHD is an institution rich in culture and diversity. February is nationally recognized as Black History Month. On Feb. 1, the South Deck was once again lively this semester, as the Student Government Association hosted UHD’s Black History Month Kick-Off Event called “We Stand With You.”
Greek life at UHD got the crowd pumped as they graced the audience with their remarkable dances. The historically African American fraternities and sororities present were Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Kappa Alpha from UHD, Sigma Gamma Rho from the University of Houston, and Iota Phi Theta from Texas Southern University.
The event continued with some poetry readings from TSU student and Iota Phi President Mark Stanley and UHD student and SGA Community Outreach Officer Sydney Castro.
Stanley recited an original poem titled “Black Blood vs White Tears,” highlighting the racial injustices that have troubled the U.S. for years. The TSU guest showed emphasis in his poem by pausing at the end of each stanza and stating, “I am sorry, I am out of breath,” a gesture in remembrance of George Floyd, a Black man murdered in Minneapolis, by white police officer Derek Chauvin.
Following Stanley, Castro performed a spoken piece titled “The Big Blue Wolves,” her rendition of Charles Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood.”
In her piece, Castro highlighted the tragic incidents that took the lives of a 25-year-old man from Brunswick, Georgia, and a 26-year-old medical worker from Louisville, Kentucky, Breonna Taylor.
“It has been 690 days since Breonna Taylor was murdered for sleeping in her own home,” Casto reminded the people in attendance. “Unfortunately, the three killers have yet to be brought to justice.”
UHD President Loren Blanchard continued the event by introducing the esteemed guests present, such as former UHD alumna Nissi Hamilton, philanthropist fighting racial justice, Roshawn Evans, and daughter of Rodney King, the man who was a victim of police brutality in 1991, Lora King.
“Although it might be a grey gloomy day, they will shine a light through the sky,” Blanchard said referring to the guest speakers.
Vida Robertson, director of the Center for Critical Race Studies at UHD, delivered a powerful speech to the crowd that left many in awe. He quoted many prominent individuals of African American history, such as Carter G. Woodson, Malcolm X, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Martin Luther King Jr.
“As African Americans and Americans of every persuasion, we are indebted to those 20 or so Africans who changed the course of the world,” Robertson said. “Our lives are inextricably bound to one another. Both the enslaved and the slave masters are linked by the uniquely American creed of equality.”
The event was not over, as the next speaker was the returning Nissi Hamilton, an advocate for raising awareness on human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is the second slavery,” Hamilton proclaimed as she gave examples in the media on how they manipulate the actuality of the situation of human trafficking.
Hamilton also shed light on how Black History Month is in February, the shortest month.
“It is so short because champions do not cut corners,” the human trafficking advocate expressed.
The event ended with a question-and-answer segment with SGA President Michelle Duvall speaking with Lora King and Roshawn Evans. King spoke on her experience as a child when her father, Rodney King, was brutally beaten by police officers in Los Angeles. Evans shared his perspective on racial injustice and touched on the social work his nonprofit does for the community.
The beginning of Black History Month was a success, and the Gator community enjoyed more events after.
Here are some thoughts from people who attended the event.
“There is so much power in knowledge,” Chloe Butler, representative of Alpha Kappa Alpha said. “When we all are aware of that, we continue to spread such information. Everyone becomes aware of our journey.”
TSU student Mark Stanley highlighted that “lawmakers across the country are writing laws that seek not only to halt the teaching of critical race theory but also erase our history.
“It was refreshing to have a chance to be a part of something that had a main purpose of amplifying Black voices,” he added.
Stanley continued the topic of how many states, including Texas, have made efforts to remove critical race theory from many curriculums.
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