As Black History Month comes to an end, we at the Technique want to take a moment to reflect on the efforts of the Institute to celebrate it.
While we appreciate the events they did put out, such as the 2023 Black History Month Lecture featuring Zion Clark, we feel that in many ways it was lacking in celebrating such a momentous month.
First, many students weren’t aware of the events since the Institute did not release an official list or calendar of the events at the beginning of, or prior to, Black History Month.
This made it difficult to find information on the few events that Tech did host. In addition, we found that the actual scheduling of the events were often at an inconvenient times for students, such as mornings and afternoons on weekdays, and were almost all placed near the end of February — making the events have an almost cramped feeling to them.
However, the Institute’s lack of a well-known and consolidated calendar speaks to a larger issue outside of just Black History Month: the difficulty of finding scheduled events across campus either hosted by the Institute or student organizations.
The difficult and often unknown process of adding events to the campus calendar discourages many student organizations from using it. Furthermore, as mentioned before, many students may not even know of its existence, so we encourage Tech to highlight it more through various avenues such as their emails.
Moreover, many of the events put out by the Institute placed a heavy emphasis on education, and while we acknowledge the importance of educational events, we also urge the Institute to do more to celebrate its Black students and staff.
In previous years, Tech has published material highlighting exceptional Black faculty on campus. We think it’s especially important for the Institute to take the time to celebrate the Black community at Tech due to the additional challenges that Black people face simply by existing in a predominantly white institution.
In the future, we also hope to see more events being put out by the Institute during Black History Month. However, with this, we also hope that the Institute focuses a majority of its effort towards highlighting Black student organizations. Many Black student organizations spend countless hours and immense effort towards putting together events during February, but they often lack outreach outside of their own club — making it difficult to reach the student body as a whole.
To combat this, we encourage the Institute to do more to uplift the voices of Black student organizations by raising awareness about their events. We also hope to see the Institute provide more monetary support in the future to Black student organizations to provide the resources necessary for more involved events.
We also hope to see a shift in the type of events held to a more interactive form. While events such as lectures and exhibits hold a valuable place in the celebration of Black History Month, we believe that interactive events allow for students to do more than just be told a perspective or see it, but instead allows them to actually experience it. A good example of this is the exhibits in the National Center for Civil and Human Rights such as the Lunch Counter Sit-In Protest Exhibit which allows visitors to experience a simulation of the event.
Finally, we wanted to encourage Tech to do more to visually highlight Black History Month on campus. A great example of this would be updating many of the banners across campus.
For example, there are many banners on Fifth Street Plaza celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX athletes, but noticeably it does not feature many non-white athletes. In addition, we hope to see more works celebrating and highlighting Black voices throughout campus.
While we discussed many of these changes directly in relation to Black History Month, we hope to see more official celebrations of Black students, faculty and alumni year-round.
While February is Black History Month, the uplifting of Black voices should not be limited to a singular month; rather, it should be an ongoing process that allows the Institute to uplift the voices of minorities in a time where they need to be heard — not just in the month of February.