By Tony Parra
Eastern New Mexico University African-American students are celebrating Black History Month and encouraging other people in the community to celebrate with them because “Black History is America’s History”
“Black History is America’s History” is the theme students from the African-American Affairs office are using for the seminars and festivities for the month of February.
Ashley Porter, director of African-American Affairs at ENMU, said students, along with the help of Diane Cordova, director of multicultural affairs, are helping to put together all of the events.
“I’m very happy about all of the events,” Porter said. “It’s very exciting for us.”
Porter said the organizers tried to encompass several facets in marking Black History Month, including entertainment, education and celebration of the African-American culture. Porter said it allows African-Americans to reflect on their culture.
“I’m proud of the struggle and the fight in African-Americans,” Porter said. “In previous generations, African-Americans were sprayed with water hoses. When I see how they were treated, I can’t believe people had to go through that.”
For the educational part, Barry Scott will be giving a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on Feb. 23. Scott, a motivational speaker, has paid tribute to the civil rights leader on other college campuses. Porter said Scott gives snippets of the “I Have a Dream” speech and asks the question, “What if Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive today?”
“It’s a celebration of my culture,” Tamika Thomas, an ENMU senior and member of the African-American Affairs office, said. “For me it’s important to know who I am and where I came from.”
Thomas said her parents taught her to never be ashamed of who she is and remain proud.
“It was important to know who I was and never be ashamed,” Thomas said. “Always embrace my culture and treat everyone equally.”
Thomas said at times there are encounters with racism but she said if someone is still ignorant over the race issue they don’t deserve her attention.
Porter said Kem French of Cannon Air Force Base helped with a movie series, “Eyes on the Prize” throughout the month. Porter said the movies are shown at Ground Zero from noon to 4 p.m. all month long. The series relives important people and events in African-American history such as Martin Luther King Jr., the Freedom Fighters and the Montgomery, Ala. buscott.
Porter said organizers are still trying to put together an HIV/AIDS Awareness forum for the students during the month. She said it’s important young African-American females understand the severity of HIV/AIDS.
“AIDS is the biggest killer of African-American women. Above homicides or cancer. I would like to educate them and make them more aware so they can be more cautious and protective about what’s going on,” Porter said.
For the entertainment, the Alfred and Seymour comedy hip-hop duo will perform in the Campus Union Ballroom at 8 p.m. on Thursday. The comedians have performed on the Jay Leno show and the Jenny Jones show.
There will be an African Art Expo from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday in the Aztec Room in the CUB. Porter said students will bring African artworks and clothing celebrating their culture.
Black History Month will be capped off with a Black History Banquet on Feb. 27 with Agalu, a Nigerian dance troop performing at 10 a.m. and at the banquet at 7 p.m. in the CUB Ballroom. Porter said she really enjoyed their performance last year and is looking forward to this year’s performance.