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Black History Month Educates and Entertains UT’s Campus

By LEAH FOREMAN

In celebration of Black History Month, UT has several events planned, including an MLK Day of Service, a Black Student Union Stroll-Off, and a talk by Eric Deegan, NPR’s first full-time TV critic and author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation.

The month of February is dedicated to recognizing the achievements made by black Americans and celebrating their role in history. It is the month that includes the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. To celebrate Black History Month here at UT, there are several events that pay tribute to the contributions made by black people to our society and to encourage the black community of UT.

Feb. 5 -10 is also the Black Student Union’s (BSU) celebration of Black History Month.

BSU kicked off the week with an open mic night in Vaughn lobby on Feb. 6. Over a dozen people performed dances, songs and original poetry.

The Black History Month Luncheon is on Feb. 10  from 12-2 p.m. in the Sword and Shield room in Martinez. It is presented by the Diversity Fellowship of UT and Deegan will discuss how the media portrays race and culture. In his book, Deegan discusses how prejudice, sexism and racism fuel some of the elements of modern media. For more information, email Diversity@ut.edu and to RSVP, visit Org Sync.    

The MLK Day of Service presented by the PEACE Volunteer Center is Feb. 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Vaughn Courtyard. The event is inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the service he performed by working for civil rights and equality. In that same spirit, the event honors Dr. King and Black History Month by coming together to serve local non-profit organizations such as Metropolitan Ministries, Zaksee Florida Bird Sanctuary, Habitat for Humanity and Glazer Children’s Museum. Register on OrgSync and for more information, email peacecommunity@ut.edu.

On Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in Cass Gym is the BSU Stroll-Off, the dance competition that involves various organizations on campus. The cost is $5 in advance and $7 at the door. For any questions about this event or any of the others presented by the BSU of UT, email BSU.uoftampa@gmail.com or visit OrgSync.

“I want to go Black History Luncheon on the 10th to hear the speaker,” said Toni Jones, a senior writing major. “It relates to my major and I want to learn how to better analyze the more insulting aspects of the news for the message they are hiding beneath.”

In addition to participating in the events to celebrate Black History Month, some students celebrate by educating the campus about their culture so others can understand and better appreciate black individuals for their contributions to society.

To educate the campus about Black History Month, Jones shares facts about black people on Facebook every day. There are 10 everyday items that many people do not know were invented by black people: traffic lights, potato chips, the United States Postal Service collection box, blood banks for donating blood, refrigerated trucks for transporting perishable foods, closed-circuit tv, 3D special effects, the touch-tone phone, laser cataract surgery and the super soaker water gun, according to The Huffington Post.

“As a black woman, I enjoy these facts all year,” Jones said. “I just get to share them with the rest of society for a month.”

Like Jones, many other students use Black History Month to teach others about how black people have benefitted society today.

“I plan on educating individuals on black history and constantly appreciating what black people have done for America and culture,” said Tiana Benoit, a freshman cybersecurity major and member of the BSU.

Benoit has been educating individuals by posting tidbits of information to her Snapchat story, such as quotes from famous and accomplished black people.

One of the quotes Benoit shared to her Snapchat was, “We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses us and abuses us, burying black people –out of sight and out of mind– while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil, black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our geniuses and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strained fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real,” originally said by Jesse Williams.

The quote references the struggles black people have overcome and continue to persevere through.

Leah Foreman can be reached at leah.foreman@spartans.ut.edu.

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