On Feb. 25, senior Isaac Cason organized a discussion about the necessity of Black History Month.
Cason was inspired to plan the discussion after hearing statements from notable black celebrities such as Morgan Freeman and Stacey Dash, who questioned the importance of Black History Month.
Dash and Freeman have both released statements within the past year questioning the importance of Black History Month, citing Black History as a part of American History and seeing no necessity to allow a special month dedicated to it.
Cason started the discussion by shedding light on these comments, and asked those in attendance whether they found Black History Month important. The unanimous consent was that it is.
Black History Month provides an opportunity to highlight important elements of American history and learn about the individuals who made a difference in advancing civil rights and equality in America, according to Brian Richardson, area coordinator and coordinator of multicultural programs.
“It gives us the opportunity to learn about those individuals who wouldn’t be recognized or talked about otherwise,” Richardson said. “It’s important because it is hard to move forward if you don’t know where you came from.”
Richardson stated that it is important for Americans to celebrate Black History Month because it encourages conversation that may not be comfortable, but is necessary, in adequately dealing with and understanding the past.
“It’s important to hear these stories to continue to provoke thought in everyone, and to inspire you to do your own research,” he said. “We need to have more conversations about it and become comfortable with uncomfortable topics.”
Cason also invited attendees to reflect on and discuss issues that influence the racial climate in the United States today, citing events that have been widely covered in media such as police brutality and the Oscars boycott.
According to Cason, these events can be pointed to as evidence of the importance of Black History Month and the importance of talking about issues of racism that are still present in the United States today. Cason posed the question of whether or not presidential candidates such as Donald Trump serve to distract from real issues of race and create a platform that normalizes racism by attempting to turn the country against immigrants.
“All major problems are sucked up, and the media’s focus is on Trump,” Cason said. “The ADD American has moved onto Trump.”
Issues such as the focus on Trump and a lack of accurate understanding of Black History can be partially attributed to the presentation of black history within American society as a whole, Cason said. He stated that Black History Month helps to ratify this by placing the focus directly on the part of America’s past which is not necessarily pretty.
“Black History Month is important because you look back and see how we have grown and how we still need to grow,” Kira Richardson, a panel attendant said.