Black organizations get ready to celebrate Black History Month

Black organizations at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) will be hosting events starting Feb. 1 to celebrate Black History Month. The theme is “Black Health and Wellness Strong” seminars, discussion groups, and more are planned on the topic throughout the month.

Charah McKinzie, the coordinator of the Black Resource Center, said the center’s main purpose is to help Black students feel comfortable at SIU.

“​I would like to describe the Black Resource Center as a home away from home for many of our students,” McKinzie said. “​The Resource Center is a place for students to just be without judgment or false pretense.​”


Having these resource centers gives Black students a space to embrace who they are and talk to someone if they need to, McKinzie said.

This kickoff will allow African Americans a chance to think about everything we have accomplished as a people, Mckinzie said.

“The BHM kickoff is a time for us to reflect and recognize the many accomplishments of Blacks/African-Americans in the country,” McKinzie said. “​This year our BHM​ kickoff speaker will be Dr. Ngozi Ezike […] the first Black woman to lead the Illinois Department of Public Health.”

Grace Gunn, the president of the Black Affairs Council (BAC), said people who haven’t learned about the many aspects of health find it harder to improve.

“I know so many people who are unhealthy in a financial sense because they have to keep working until they literally can’t because they don’t have enough retirement income,” Gunn said. “Building the knowledge about how to actually be healthy, and not just telling one another to be healthier is our goal.”

Gunn said these events will teach people to educate themselves on how to plan for their future, be successful in the workplace and live a healthier life.

Networking opportunities will also be available, Gunn said.


“The Black Affairs Council is in charge of the Black grad luncheon, which is an event where we have lunch for students on Monday and Thursday,” Gunn said. “They can meet other Black faculty and students who are in their masters or PhD or EDD program so they can learn more about what it takes to do things like going to med school or law school.”

Kourtney Sims, the president of the Black Togetherness Organization (BTO) said these events will allow Black students to share what makes their culture so special.

“There’s a large population of Black students here at SIU. I think it’s important that we know ourselves and that we’re able to share our culture and history, just to make it a more educated and loving community on campus,” Sims said.

Sims said this event will allow students to reflect on their health and possibly make healthy changes to their lives.

“I hope that they’re able to identify issues and stuff that we discuss, and they’re able to relay or share this information with their own loved ones, or take care of their own health or even, just maybe, inspire them to create changes in their own communities,” Sims said.

Sims said being able to encourage people to talk about how they can improve their health and then share it with the community is important.

“I believe having programs such as the Black History Month Kickoff enhances and promotes community. The late Maya Angelou said it best, ‘We need joy as we need air. We need love as we need water. We need each other as the earth we share’,” McKinzie said.

Staff reporter Janiyah Gaston can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @DEJaniyah. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.