African-American Heritage Month Chock full of events

T'Nerra Butler, Multicultural Editor

With years of bringing events that celebrate African-American Heritage Month, 2016 is no different with the “Black Awakening,” as the committee’s theme.

This month of events begins Monday with a kickoff event and will go on to have events almost every day during the month of February.

Yolanda Williams, a gateway advisor and the African-American Heritage month chair, said the committee looked at what was going on with African-American students not only at Eastern, but nationwide.

“The rallies, the stuff that was going on at Mizzou and all the protest was a new awakening for black people and black students,” Yolanda Williams said.

The students around campus contributed a lot to the month with their overabundance of ideas, Yolanda Williams said. She said they heard the final theme and ran with it.

Tiyaji Williams, a junior communication studies major, was a part of this year’s committee and said she felt honored after becoming a part of the group. She said this year’s theme has great timing.

“In all of the things that are going on, the set backs we’ve had, people are now becoming more educated and fighting back and it’s definitely the black awakening,” Tiyaji Williams said.

Yolanda Williams said this year the budget for the month was cut by a few hundred dollars and negotiating was key in bringing some of the events to campus.

“It’s still important. Diversity is important whether we have $5 or $5 million,” Yolanda Williams said. “It’s important especially at a predominately white institution.”

Yolanda Williams said this year it was a waiting game when it came to being able to setting dates for different presenters. She said when the money is delayed, the calendar is delayed and it makes it harder to lock in a presenter.

When it came to asking other departments, Yolanda Williams said she did not want to ask for money.

“It just wasn’t there,” Yolanda Williams said. “All of us are in the same boat with our budgets, so it would be unfair for me to ask for money. That was the sad thing about this year.”

With the budget aside, Yolanda Williams said the celebration of African-American Heritage Month is essential.

“As a society, as a world we aren’t at a place where we are so diverse and connected with each other’s history that black history is no longer needed,” Yolanda Williams said. “We are not there yet. We’re not post-racial.”

Yolanda Williams said the message the students should take from the month is that the black awakening goes farther than just the month of February.

“It means being awake on what’s going on globally with people of color,” Yolanda Williams said. “Really look at what is going on in the world when it comes to young black people.”

With an event to attend almost everyday, Yolanda Williams said students would take away something with going to just a few if they cannot make them all. She said students should go to the mixer on Monday to find out about the month of events.

Yolanda Williams said one misconception about the month is the celebration is just for the African-American community. She said the month was designed to celebrate a heritage, but it is still inclusive and people from all backgrounds can take from the month.

“You should already be awake, but if not this is it,” Yolanda Williams said. “Find out what you can do to help you and the people of color in this world.”


T’Nerra Butler can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]