Black History Month for BYU is a ‘time to learn’

Debra Bonner of the Debra Bonner Gospel Unity Choir leads the audience in singing during the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Outreach event. Black History Month is a time to celebrate and recognize the sacrifice of Black Americans. (Josh Ellis)

Less than 1% of students enrolled at BYU are Black, according to Data USA. The majority of the campus population is white, but according to a BYU Multicultural Student Services advisor, that does not make Black History Month any less relevant to campus.

Since 1970, February has marked the observance of Black History Month as a time to recognize the central role and struggle of African Americans in the United States. For students on the BYU campus, it can be an opportunity for learning and inclusivity, BYU Multicultural Student Services advisor J. Teresa Davis said.

“I feel it is important for everyone to know because our Black history is a part of American history,” Davis said. “You can’t learn American history without learning about Black history.”

Black History Month on the BYU campus is a time for the community to learn more about our shared American history, Davis said. Growing up, Black History Month was not necessarily a celebration but it was a learning opportunity for her.

“People need to recognize that Black History Month isn’t just about famous people,” family life major Domanique Kemp said. Kemp emphasized the importance of learning about the less-talked about people in Black history, especially women.

There are upcoming opportunities on campus for students and faculty to learn and recognize the intense history of Black Americans. Some events to help learn about Black history include a PEN Talks event honoring Black history on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. and the show Perspectives which will be Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

However, learning doesn’t have to just be through on-campus events this month, Davis said, there are many resources and books to start with.

“I would say maybe start with Malcolm X’s biography. He lists people he encountered and I think that’s where you can spin off of,” Davis said.

Another recommendation from Davis is to start a conversation, but do your research. She and Kemp said it can be scary for non-people of color to ask questions but she encourages them to push past the uncomfortable.

“You need to do your own research,” Kemp said. “Don’t use me as your history book.”

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