Black students at BYU share how to navigate Black History Month

The Black Student Union (BSU) is one of the many clubs at BYU dedicated to creating safe spaces for Black students and other minority groups on campus. Students can join their community and stay connected by following their Instagram for updates on events throughout the month and beyond. (Image courtesy of Fatwa Luka)

Students can actively commemorate Black History Month by participating in a range of activities on campus this month, engaging in learning sessions and celebrating diverse perspectives.

Black History Month events

World Interfaith Harmony Week Lecture (Feb 1): Jonathan Lee Walton speaks on “Black Religion and the Quest for Black Freedom” at 7:30 p.m. in the Hinckley Center Assembly Hall.

Stories of Life (Feb 5): Join a captivating journey through the eras of Black history with music, song and dance from 6:30-9 p.m. in the Marriott Center. Refreshments will be served. Click here to register.

Intersection Book Club (Feb 7, 14, 21, 28): Engage in discussions about Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” at 7 p.m. in FSB 4186.

BYU Slavery Project Conference (Feb 16): Attend the Truth and Reconciliation conference addressing the history of race and slavery at BYU from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Varsity Theater.

Cultural Odyssey Perspectives (Feb 16): Celebrate diverse cultures in the WSC Ballroom at 7 p.m.

Black History Month Concert (Feb 21 and 28): Experience a musical celebration in the Harold B. Lee Library at noon.

Student experiences

Fatwa Luka, president of the Black Student Alliance, expressed her gratitude for the dedicated month and its importance for “people to celebrate Black history, Black culture, Black excellence, and everything that we have contributed.”

For Luka, it’s not just a time for celebration but also a powerful opportunity for the Black community to gain confidence and connect.

“I think it’s a beautiful opportunity for people to remember how important it is to value Black people … It’s also a great time for Black people to gain confidence in themselves and connect to the community and enjoy each other’s company,” she said.

Amaya Cartwright, the Women of Color Club Vice President, shared her own experience as a minority, and finding community where it may seem difficult.

“At first, I was really scared to sit in the Multicultural Office and the Office of Belonging. But I learned that that’s literally the best place to do anything, to meet people or feel like you have a community,” she said.

Kebo Nguimbj stands proudly between her mother and father. Kebo finds strength in celebrating her uniqueness at BYU. (Photo courtesy of Kebo Nguimbj)

Black History Month is a time to bring awareness and representation to minority voices. Cartwright shared her journey from hesitation about going to college, to aspiring towards a nursing degree, and the impact of seeing women of color in movies.

“I love when they make movies about successful women of color and how they’ve contributed to society. They make me feel so inspired because for me personally when I was living at home, I couldn’t achieve as much growing up,” she said.

Other Black students look to inspirational Black figures in history or family members who have inspired them. For freshman Kebo Nguimbj, WOCC Activities Director, challenges her family faced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo shaped her perspective.

“Coming to the States, my parents have not had it easy, but one thing they have never done is give up,” Nguimbj said. “They did not give up on continuing to make me and my siblings’ lives easier, and they have not given up on properly teaching us where we came from and all of our Congolese traditions. They taught me to never hide my background because it is what makes me Kebo.”

Students like senior Cordelia Pallares have worked to plan meaningful opportunities to get involved.

Acting as the Women of Color club president, Pallares explained that they are planning to raise funds for Palestine on Feb. 21 from 5-7 p.m., in collaboration with the Arab Student Association. The location is to be announced. The organizers encourage attendees to contribute funds for food aid and masks for those in displaced camps in Gaza.

“If we think of our previous people in Black history such as MLK or Rosa Parks, they were standing up for our rights, and I feel like it’s a way that we can support those who are having their rights taken from them and also their lives,” Pallares said.

Those interested can follow the Black Student Alliance, Women of Color Club, and Arab Student Association on social media to stay up to date on other events and news this month.

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