Letter to the Editor: Reflection on black history month

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson speaking in the BLC.

The Black Student Union (BSU) believes that it is important for Rider University and surrounding communities to understand the history of African Americans as well as their impact on American culture and history. This year, BSU coined the slogan “Red, Black, and Green. What Does It Mean?” as its slogan for Black History Month 2008.

“It’s the flag of the black nationalists’ movement,” said BSU treasurer, Rudima Jackson. “It represents the blood, land and the people, our ancestors. Black history month is not just limited to the month of February. However, it is a time of reflection and re-connection to our ancestry.”

BSU strongly believes that the memories of the events and the quality of the programs have definitely affected the Rider community. This year, Black History Month began before February at the Rider Men’s Basketball home game against Iona on Martin Luther King Day, which BSU co-sponsored with the Rider Athletics department. A speaker who read aloud the famous and memorable “I Have a Dream,” speech during halftime dedicated the game to the legacy of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In addition, BSU brought in a Trenton drum line team, New Millennium Drill Squad, which performed before the basketball game.

“We definitely felt that Black History shouldn’t be relevant only during one particular month,” said BSU president Joy Clayton. “So, we purposely scheduled events during January and we have an event in March as well.”

The campaign continued on Jan. 31 with the official kickoff event, a lecture by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, sponsored in part by the Rider Lecture Series. Dyson, dubbed the “Hip-Hop Intellectual,” moved the large audience as he discussed race, politics and the state of our nation.

The month continued with events such as a dynamic Student/Faculty Mixer where students were able to interact with faculty and staff. The Black Male Conference educated attendees on the definition of manhood, how to control your image and ways to become a better man. On Fire!, a spoken word and poetry night, was a first look at the upcoming On Fire! literary journal, which is coming to Rider later this spring. The literary journal’s theme focuses on the African American diaspora, and the event featured works performed by students, staff and editor-in-chief Rance Robeson.

The month will conclude with a celebration of featured gospel performances from local choirs and performing groups as well as talent from Rider and Westminster during BSU’s Gospel Fest 2008 on Sunday, March 9, at 4:30 p.m. in the BLC Theater. The event will be followed by a soul dinner in the Cavalla Room.

BSU strongly encourages other races and cultures to get involved with the organization so that the members of the Rider community can grow in their knowledge of diversity and challenge themselves to step out of their cultural comfort zone. Black history is not just the history of one race, but it is the history of one country — our country, America.

— Michael Young & Uchenna Duru
Public Relations Chair; Vice President (BSU)

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