‘To highlight BHM for 28 days does not do us justice.’ Campus reflects on Black History Month

LaNasia Mason, Reporter

Black students, staff and faculty at the University of Kentucky spent the entire month of February celebrating their community. 

Recognized by the U.S. as Black History Month since 1976, February commemorates the sacrifices and accomplishments of African Americans.

At UK, some Black students see it as more than just that.

“Black History Month means everything sucks that we have one month, but it means highlighting all the people who came before me and never forgetting all of their accomplishments and just internalizing that in my everyday life,” UK junior Kelsey West said.

UK is a predominantly white institution; the population of African American students on campus is around 7%. 

The university celebrated its Black students, staff and faculty with events throughout February.

But even with these celebrations, some have found that, with February being the shortest month of the year, having only 28 designated days to celebrate the Black community and Black history is not enough.

“I think that UK does a great job of celebrating BHM, but there is always room for more celebratory opportunities. There is so much rich history that can be shared 365 days of the year, but to highlight BHM for 28 days does not do us justice,” said Mia Farrell, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

While UK’s honoring of Black History Month was appreciated by students, staff and faculty, being Black is an everyday experience, and many on campus want to ensure that experience is honored as consistently as possible.

“Coming from a perspective as someone who is in student government, we’re not reaching out to the Black community when determining what to do for Black History Month,” said Hallie Rice, Student Government Association assistant director of Wildcats at the Capitol.  “(This) can be fixed by reaching out to the black organizations, because we can’t solve other communities’ issues if we don’t have the representation to do so.”

The work of Black student organizations on UK’s campus carries Black celebration and recognition beyond the month of February.

Along with hosting weekly meetings and student events, organizations the MLK Center, Underground Perspective and the Black Student Union amplify Black student voices year-round.

“The Martin Luther King Center seeks to empower University of Kentucky students across identities to improve their college experience through opportunities rooted in Dr. King’s Philosophy,” Ja’Mahl McDaniel, director of the MLK Center, said.

Black History Month invites not only conversations about both African Americans’ past and present but also the importance of embracing Black culture wholeheartedly. 

“It’s important for people to realize Black History is and will forever be a part of American History. We cannot forge nor forget the realities of how Black culture has influenced our society,” McDaniel said.