Students and Staff Reflect on Black History Month

Chloe Deavens, Adrain Smith and Kenya Sykes
Photos by Jacob Ruth

Chloe Deavens, Adrain Smith and Kenya Sykes

As part of Black History Month, writer Paige McGaughy, a sophomore journalism major, interviewed members of the campus community for a Q&A about their thoughts during this month of celebration of black history and accomplishment. The interviews are with:

  • Chloe Deavens, a sophomore kinesiology major from Fayetteville.
  • Kenya Sykes, a senior social work major from West Memphis.
  • Adrain Smith, director of leadership and diversity initiatives at the Multicultural Center from Rison.

What Does Black History Month Mean to You?

Chloe Deavens: "Black History Month, to me, is a time to reflect on the past and celebrate the future of African Americans. For me it's a time of remembering who we are, being aware of where we are at, and realizing where we need and want to go as a people in this country. Although, this is not just a one-month process, February definitely sparks some sense of duty in me, and makes me want to learn more about where I came from."

Adrain Smith: "To me, Black History Month means highlighting black culture and narratives that are often understated. It's important to celebrate and engage in events and activities that promote education and personal growth."

Kenya Sykes: "I love Black History Month because it seems to be the only time African Americans can celebrate our culture and history of our ancestors to the fullest. Being black is beautiful, and during this month, it means to be proud of who you are and your race, which is why you see such unity within this entire month. This month is a tribute to everyone who has paved the way and are continuing to fight for African Americans in the U.S. I feel personally that black history shouldn't only be subjected to one month especially since black people have contributed a wide variety of things to many inventions that we have today, most music that you listen to, and also the common trends that come from black"

Do You Attend Any Events to Celebrate? If so, what are they?

Deavens: "I haven't attended a Black History Month event in many years. However, I do attend a black history event in July, called Juneteenth."

Smith: "I've attended numerous events hosted so far this month. The most recent events were First Friday: Black History Month Kickoff hosted by the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education and the NAACP Kickoff Thursday night. I'm excited for the upcoming event hosted by University Programs: Cultures & Concepts, Lecture with Angela Rye: CNN Political Commentator."

Sykes: "During this month and specifically on the campus of the University of Arkansas, there are various programs dedicated to African Americans and our culture mostly hosted by various black organizations and RSOs on the campus. So far, I have attended events such as the Ruthie Foster concert, Shades of Ebony, First Friday through the Multicultural Center where we celebrated the first day of Black History Month, and many more."

Is there anything that you do during this month and not others?

Deavens: "There's nothing that I really do this month, that I don't do in others, but I hope that changes! I would love to have a Black History Month tradition in my family or with friends."

Smith: "Black History Month is more than a month long for me. I actively celebrate it 365 days a year. It's my purpose to promote black history."

Sykes: "Other than going to multiple programs each week dedicated to Black History Month, everything is the same because every month, to me, is Black History Month. I love being in the race I am and proud of it. Being black is lit, and during this month, it seems to be the only month you see black people do things as a whole, but we continuously support the blackness around us. It may not be seen but there are various times throughout the year where we have reforms, and meetings to support ourselves as a race."

In what ways do you reflect on this month?

Deavens: "This month really gets me thinking about the history of African Americans in this country. This really is the time I try to understand more about where I and so many others come from. I also learn to be more aware of our country's current situation regarding African Americans and the perceptions that people have. I tend to think more and try to read more books this month about things regarding African American history, and where I came from."

Smith: "I reflect on the accomplishments and contributions black people have had on our history. Black history is American history."

Sykes: "During this month I reflect on various history facts and celebrate with many of my friends and family by doing things for the culture. It could be things such as dress like your favorite person in black history or dressing in dashiki's and African royal print. Personally, I have been supporting and sponsoring different black-owned businesses throughout this entire month. This movement is called 28 Days of Melanin Business, and I came up with this after having a conversation with a group at the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference about how there is a lack of support within the black community. We have discussed how trends and norms of America and white history teaches us how to compete and never to uplift each other which is why we fail as race. This is why I promote black excellence and support."

 

Contacts

Scott Flanagin, executive director of communications
Division of Student Affairs
479-575-6785, sflanagi@uark.edu

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