February is Black History Month, and Missouri State is hosting events throughout the month to celebrate and educate, with students of all races encouraged to partake.
“I believe it is important for us as a society to become culturally competent, and gain more knowledge about another culture that we do not identify with ourselves,” said Tre Pryor, graduate assistant for Multicultural Services.
Pryor serves as co-chair for Black History Month with the Multicultural Resource Center. To bring the events of the month together, he reached out to various organizations across campus such as the Association of Black Collegians, NAACP and Melaqueer to get student representatives for a committee. From there, they planned events and decided when they would take place.
Kyler Sherman-Wilkins, an assistant professor and co-chair for Black History Month, said that he feels black students as well as students of color in general struggle with finding a sense of belonging at Missouri State. He hopes that by honoring Black History Month they’ll be able to allow black students, staff and faculty to show their heritage to the rest of the university while also creating a sense of family among themselves.
“This year’s theme is Black Excellence, and we break down each week with a sub-theme that emphasizes the attribute that we hope to highlight in that particular week,” Sherman-Wilkins said. “Week one is all about engagement, week two centers around empowerment, week three highlights enlightenment and we end the month with a focus on experience.”
Sherman-Wilkins said one of the highlights of the month will be Feb. 22, where the organizations will be hosting the Black History Month Banquet in the PSU Ballroom from 5 to 7 p.m. Along with food, the banquet will feature music, dance and spoken word poetry.
“I can honestly say that we are set to have one of the best Black History Month slate of events yet,” Sherman-Wilkins said.
Apryl Myers, a general planning committee member for Black History Month, said events held by MRC are important in providing visibility to underrepresented groups on campus.
“Especially when you’re talking about the black community in general, this is to continue showing support, the significance as far as things that have been done across the nation in America, why we are important,” Myers said. “I don’t wanna be like ‘black is beautiful,’ but I mean black is beautiful.”
Myers said beyond Black History Month, learning about different cultures is always worth it.
“It’s so fascinating and there’s always a time and opportunity to learn,” Myers said. “I think that when it comes to cultural competency, one of Missouri State’s pillars, you never know it all. Being able to be around individuals who are different than you and can offer a different perspective is always valuable.”