As we enter the second week in February, students across the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus have already begun to celebrate Black History Month, hoping to recognize and listen to Black voices.
First celebrated in 1976, the month is dedicated to honoring the contributions of African Americans throughout U.S. History, as well as reflecting on the legacy that comes from the people within the community.
Morgan Parham, a graduate student studying ethnic studies, spoke to what Black History Month means to her.
“It is special because it is an excuse to dive deep and focus on yourself and your culture,” said Parham, “maybe learn about people in your culture that you haven’t been able to study.”
Already taking part in the events of the month, Parham attended the show, “Wounded Healers”, a piece about the long-term effect that slavery has had on African American men. The show included several monologues as well as musical pieces, demonstrating the physical and neurological trauma carried by Black male bodies.
“It was two hours, it was a musical and spoken word performance going through black history from Africa all the way through different eras,” said Parham, who was particularly moved by the piece.
“It was hard to watch at the beginning,” said Parham, “but then it was also nice at the end when we did the questions because everyone got to be more open.”
While the show is about the turmoil, there was a level of hope that was included, via the usage of expression.
“Speaking to the pain that happened, but also how we heal ourselves through music and art,” said Parham.
The rest of the month will include several events to celebrate Black History, including this week with the “It’s the Black Girl Magic for ME” event being held on Wednesday.
At this event, there will be discussions led by Alumni Briana Williamson and Shadow Rolan. Topics will include societal expectations of Black women and how to exemplify Black Girl Magic.
Later this month, the 46th Annual Dr. Michael T. Fagin Pan African Conference will be held virtually from February 23-25. According to the University website, the aim of the conference is to “provide the tools to reflect on innovative ways to move the needle forward and reimagine the world of education.”
In regard to the month as a whole, Parham hopes that fellow students use this as a time to reflect on the different types of Black leaders throughout history.
“It’s the shortest month of the year,” said Parham, “but I feel like people should take the time to study other notable black people that have different intersections, like gender, disability, or class.”