Black History month officially “kicked off”

By Gus Bode

After Joseph Brown blessed the food, most of the crowd helped themselves to a plate of chicken and conversation.

Brown, director of Black American Studies, gathered with about 50 students and faculty in the Student Center Friday at a reception that introduced the month that has been recognized as Black History Month since 1926, when it started as Black History Week.

Harrison Sanders, a junior from Texas studying mechanical engineering, said he heard about the reception from Pamela Smoot, assistant professor in BAS.


“I came out to meet figureheads and staff and bond with them,” Sanders said. He also plans on attending more of the month’s events.

Smoot said she was happy with the size of the crowd this year, especially because last year’s reception didn’t have a big a turnout.

“The program is a clear demonstration of what multiculturalism is,” Smoot said.

The kickoff reception was organized by Smoot and supported by other sponsors including the BAS department, the Black History Month Committee, Black Affairs Council and other organizations sponsored the events for the month.

“Everyone seems to be excited about the programs we have planned for them,” Smoot said. “We hope the people in this room will go and alert their friends and other faculty members to the activities that will be taking place.”

This is the second year the BAS department has received the funds to plan the events. In previous years, Student Development hosted the Black History Month events.

Smoot said the department just felt like they were better capable of getting the word out about the events to the students.


“That isn’t to say that Student Development was not doing a good job, but to say we the Black American Studies have sort of a better feel for getting more people involved,” Smoot said. “A lot of that has to do with our relationships with the students.”

Brandon Kaufman, a senior from Peoria studying history education, said the reception was what he expected.

Kaufman said he came to the event to join in the celebration of his culture.

Kaufman is member of Phi Rho Eta, the fraternity co-sponsoring the next event; Tuesday night’s panel discussion: “Is the world ready for an African American or woman president?”

Jakina Hill can be reached at 536-3311 ext 273 or [email protected].