Black History Month
It is the last day of February, and the 27th day of feeling a little guilty that I am not doing more to celebrate Black History Month.
I love American History, and I especially love Black History. I have always been interested in the history of the classical Civil Rights Movement. After taking Dr. Rebecca de Schweinitz's class last winter, I became passionate about the Black experience in the United States. I wish I could just live my life learning and talking to people who have had such different experiences, and who have enriched my own.
This is an article about my thoughts in last year's BYU FHSS newsletter:
Alisa Hardy, a senior graduating in American studies, believes that “BYU students are more sensitive about racial issues then they are given credit for; however, there is a lot of room for improvement.” Hardy became interested in the civil rights movement through her involvement in many history and political science classes, and for one of her history classes—History 383: African-American History—she was asked to complete a project for African-American History Month.
Hardy remembered that before she served a mission, one of her friends held a black history party in which they watched a relevant movie and had a discussion on black history and racial issues. Later, Hardy found out that the party was a project for History 383, and she decided to hold a party of her own.
“I wanted other people to have a similar experience that I had, in kind of an informal environment,” says Hardy. She went to many events in February and tried to really educate herself on civil rights and racial issues. She advertised the party on Facebook to hundreds of friends.
“It ended up being more of an open house—lots of books and pictures—and people could talk about Black History Month and what they thought it was,” says Hardy. “I put pictures of faces of African-American people that we should know, but generally we don’t. It was really interesting.”
They had a large discussion of what Black History Month meant, different racial issues and different historical people.
About 40 or 45 people came throughout the night. “They all really enjoyed it,” says Hardy, “and they thought a lot about it and considered Black History Month and racial issues in America in ways that they’d never considered.” Earlier in February, Hardy attended a lecture in which she heard Margaret Blair Young and Darius Gray—founders of a civil rights activist group and co-authors of “One More River to Cross,” a book on black Latter-day Saints. Hardy notes, “They talked about how important it is that we are aware and sensitive about racial issues.”
Though Hardy feels she still has a narrow education pertaining to racial issues, she advocates for a more frank conversation about such issues. “It would be good for students and professors to be more forthright in how we discuss race in the classroom, so we know better how to address it in other situations. I think we need to be aware of racial issues that exist, especially in Church history, so we can be good representatives of BYU and the Church, and truly ‘go forth and serve.’”
--Danielle Leavitt, FHSS Student Writer