GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Students and faculty at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey said the spirit of Black History Month should not be limited to February, but should be extended to a year-long celebration.
“It’s already established, we have Black History Month,” David Murray, president of the school’s Unified Black Students Society said Tuesday. “It will inspire, and it will permeate through the masses, and it doesn’t have to stop at February 28.”
Students and faculty members gathered Tuesday to raise the Pan-African flag, with its bold colors of red, black and green, and to challenge each other to celebrate the successes of African Americans while working for a better future.
The red represents the blood that unites all African Americans, black represent the African-American people and the green is the natural wealth of Africa.
The flag-raising happened outside the Arts and Sciences building at 11 a.m. It was originally scheduled for Feb. 1, but was delayed due to bad weather. About 20 people attended.
Tuesday’s keynote speaker, Dean of Students Pedro Santana, said Black History Month is a much larger celebration than remembering the “I Have a Dream” speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
It is also larger that celebrating current African-American successes and evaluating past struggles. It is about being thankful for what ancestors have done to develop a nation that continues to strive for equality.
He said Black History Month celebrates leaders who may not have seen the fruits of their labor.
Following the program, members of the society and the college’s chapter of the NAACP said they thought it was important to localize Black History Month and empower students.
Murray said students at Stockton come from all walks of life and represent a wide variety of ethnic groups and backgrounds. So many of them are not taught to be empowered and strong, he said.
The Unified Black Students Society wants to promote awareness and educate the student population, he said.
Mercedes Evans, vice president of the college’s NAACP chapter, said the month does not just celebrate African Americans, but it also celebrates how their legacies and contributions ripple out into society.
“It’s an event for every culture,” she said. “Not just black people.”
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