Daily Egyptian

Black History month events focus on ‘African Americans in times of war’

By Jeremy Brown, Staff reporter

Several SIU organizations have scheduled 22 events for Black History month, centered around African Americans in times of war.

The Black Affairs Council is hosting two lunches with African American graduate students on Feb. 7 and Feb. 20. President of the Black Affairs Council Bethany Peppers said the lunches are away to commemorate those that don’t get enough recognition.

“We’re highlighting those African Americans who were with us, that fought for us to be able to do the things we do today,” Peppers said. “So I can be in school, so I can be in college, so I can be free as an American.  It’s just important to highlight that.”

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Peppers said the theme is still very relevant now as it was in history. “Consistently throughout history we’ve had actual wars,” Peppers said. “But you also have times and periods that are like right now. A time where struggle is occurring.”

Peppers is a junior who’s double majoring in Political Science and Africana Studies and said the themes in these events have many parallels to the current state of the university’s restructuring plan.

“We are fighting to protect what we call SIU,” Peppers said. “For at least four years, it’s our home. We are fighting to feel at home.”

Comptroller for the Black Affairs Council Jada Kelly, majoring in Political Science and Africana Studies said the black student, staff and faculty meet and greet on Feb. 15 is an event that affects her.

“What I have seen since I walked in as a freshman in 2015,” Kelly said. “Is that people who represent the programs, the dean’s, advisors of RSOs and undergraduate programs alike are disappearing.”

Kelly said when people get to see these faculty and staff in person, they can see them as real people. “They care about their jobs, they’re due respect and they have a place here,” Kelly said.

Kelly and Peppers said the events are not just for African Americans, and that it’s encouraged people of all different viewpoints to come to any Black History month event.

“It’s important that with any issue we don’t sit there and talk only to ourselves,” Kelly said. “If we are a feminist group, you don’t want to only have those people who feel like they’re feminists in that room. You want that other side so they can understand where you’re coming from.”

Kelly said people need to get past the point of conversation and get to action. Part of that action is being able to interact with the people that you feel are oppressing you.

“If you keep having this conversation back and forth with yourself you’re not going to get anywhere,” Kelly said. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they’re not welcome just because they don’t necessarily fit into these organizations or what their people are doing.”

Peppers said by teaching people from different backgrounds the history during these events, they can have meaningful conversations on how to do better in recognizing important figures in the future.

“One sect of people can’t do that by themselves,” Peppers said. “Everyone being involved is what’s needed. So we can move on in a positive light, and make the changes that people fought for us to be able to do.”

Peppers said the fun events of the month like the “Afro-Slayage,” a fashion show on Feb. 25, are important to the overall theme of wartime this month, and she hopes people don’t forget that Black History month isn’t just one month.

“This is something that we should always be learning,” Peppers said. “War is something we study all the time. We need to make sure that people who are marginalized are within history. Don’t forget them after February ends.”

Staff writer Jeremy Brown can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JeremyBrown_DE.

To stay up to date with all your SIU news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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