Black history month examines past, present and future trials of an influential culture

By: Brittany McDaniel, feature editor

In honor of Black History month, the RSC Black History Committee sponsored the African-American History Celebration Tuesday, Feb. 8, in the Main Dining Room.

Monique Bruner, professor of political science, emceed the event, introducing the Millwood Arts Academy third grade dance group, whom performed a variety of tributes to trail-blazing African Americans including Marcus Gravey, Malcom-X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Millwood dancers quoted poetry from Langston Hughes and performed the Black Pledge of Allegiance for attendees.

James Hochtritt spoke on the influences of African-American and Black culture, describing his speech as “food for thought” rather than an actual lecture. “At various times in colonial American, more Africans were arriving there than Europeans. As a result of that, just the cultural impact that Black Americans had on this country far exceeds the historical population numbers.”

He described the hypocrisy in a struggle for a nation based on equality that viewed its darker skinned citizens as less than worthy of equal rights.  “The fact that people were enslaved, and the fact that colonial America was built upon the backs of the slave men, women and children forced people to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if they were in a sense being human in their treatment of [African Americans],” Hochtritt said.

Hochtritt pointed out that even after the Civil War, the entire nation reverted back to a place where the color of one’s skin required separate and unequal treatment.  “How did a nation collectively go to bed for 100 years and think this was perfectly acceptable? People got increasingly aggressive and asked the country ‘Are you living up to that credo?’ The collective response was, ‘No you are not, get it right.’”

According to Hochtritt, while there has been much change, a truly equal society has not yet been achieved, an invisible discrimination still plagues society today. He described it as a form of discrimination that is less obvious and that you quite put your finger on, but you know it’s there.”

The election of the nation’s first Black president was used as a point of evidence that the nation is moving towards a more socially progressive country. “You have to stand back and appreciate the symbolic importance of that election. It doesn’t make everything perfect, but symbolically we have taken a step in the right direction,” Hochtritt said.

After hearing the guest speaker, Bruner challenged the audience to become a part or something bigger, just as she challenges her government classes. “What are you doing to be part of the solution, to really say you have made a difference?” Bruner asked.

After the presentations Bruner announced the winner of the D2L Black History quiz. Bruner announced that 500 people had taken the quiz and that 24 made a perfect score of 100 percent, who were then eligible to win a Kindle and protective case. Antonio Ochoa was announced as the drawing winner, but he was not present to accept the prize.

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