Students express ideas about African-American Heritage Month

Carmen Emanuel, Contributing Writer

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As the month of February comes to an end, students at Eastern expressed how they feel about African-American Heritage Month.

“I have a lot of respect for the people that have sacrificed their time, their opportunity and their lives with the goal of helping us today to get to where we are to succeed in a Caucasian-led society,” Eastern football running back and senior sociology major Eddie Lusk III said.

Many of the members of the Black Student Union said they are proud of what their ancestors have done for the African-American culture.

“Those before us, our ancestors, without them we wouldn’t be where we are today, because they were the ones that decided to make a change to start something new,” BSU member and junior biological sciences major Raven Gant said.

BSU member and freshman family and consumer sciences major Tatyana Hyde said one lesson that can be learned from the experiences of African-Americans throughout history is that “bravery conquers fear.”

For junior psychology major Rafael Cooke, African-American Heritage Month gives those in the African-American culture something to keep striving toward, no matter how difficult things may become.

“One of the biggest lessons to take from African-American history is perseverance and to stay consistent by not giving up on what you truly want and believe,” Cooke said.

Eastern track sprinter and junior communication studies major Ricky Owens, Jr. said he likes seeing the historical significance of the month.

“Every single year I love seeing the stuff that has happened throughout history, but I feel it’s something that shouldn’t be taught just for one month,” Owens said. “It’s definitely something that should be taught year around.

BSU member and junior sociology major T’amber Sherrod said she likes that everyone is very happy during African-American Heritage Month, and there is always a lingering positive vibe among African-American people during February.

BSU member and sophomore kinesiology major Rajah Matthews said the historical figures that are represented within African-American culture have helped African-American people to tackle many obstacles. “They have all done something different that has helped us improve today,” Matthews said. “Along the line we kept jumping hurdles and making progress, to even Obama becoming the president.”

BSU member and junior graphic design major Gabrielle Bersamin said the historical figures that are represented in the African-American culture gives African-Americans hope to progress in anything their hearts desire.

“We are very powerful and very intelligent,” Bersamin said. “We can do anything if we put our minds to it.”

For Cooke, African-American Heritage Month is not recognized the way it should truly be recognized.

“The first few days of the month is when it get its most recognition, but after that I feel like it’s forgotten,” Cooke said. “We don’t really scratch the surface of what our people have truly done in this country.”

Gant said without the acknowledgement of African-American Heritage Month, no one would truly know about African-American heritage.

“I remember in grade school, African-American Heritage Month was a big thing,” Gant said. “You learned all the facts about everyone from Dr. Carver to Madam C.J. Walker, but even now, me being 21, I don’t hear these facts every day.”

For Lusk, there are a number of individuals that are not being recognized for their contributions to African-American culture.

“We hear a lot about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and those are all great people, but there’s also people that have done just as much if not more,” Lusk said. “We as a culture could take it upon ourselves to learn more about the people that even came before them that started the trend of fighting for our rights.”

The U.S. has recognized February as African-American Heritage Month since 1976.

Carmen Emanuel can be reached at 518-2812 or [email protected].