SVSU continued its Black History Month celebrations with a lecture by sociology professor Dawn Hinton titled “Why We Celebrate Black History Month.”
The lecture was held on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge.
The well-attended event kicked off with a brief history of Black History Month. It began as a week-long celebration with Carter Woodson in 1926, and his goal was to celebrate the average African American individual.
Hinton then discussed her own family story, describing how her relatives would “pass” as white and belittle darker African Americans. She explained that her mom became her personal hero by sacrificing to make sure she could attain the education her mother never had.
People like her mother, Hinton argues, are why Black History Month should still be celebrated, not because of celebrities who are often given notoriety during the February celebrations.
“My mother is accomplished and is an example of black excellence,” Hines said. “Although she may not be worth $1 million, and she didn’t name one of her children after a color in the crayon box, her contributions to history are more important to me than anything that Jay-Z or Beyoncé could be.”
Hines challenged the students in attendance to fight for their freedom instead of avoiding the pain and responsibility that freedom brings them.
“We need your creativity in order to solve the world’s problems,” Hines said. “We are in trouble. … We have racism, we have sexism, we have antisemitism, we have various forms of religious persecution. We are in a state of crisis. My generation, we couldn’t figure it out. We couldn’t fix it.”
Hines hoped that students in attendance would take up the fight that her generation lost.
“I’m not sharing this to discourage you or to scare you, but to challenge you,” Hines said. “Because you are our hope.”
After her speech, Hines fielded several audience questions. During this section of the evening, Hines again explained why Black History Month is still needed.
“If we told the truth every other month of the year, then we wouldn’t need Black History Month,” Hines said. “It’s a useless thing if you simply told the truth.”
Sociology textbooks, she noted, don’t even tell the truth.
“If you look at any intro to sociology textbook, you will see white men as those who created sociology,” Hines said. “There’s no talk of W.E.B. Du Bois, the first black man to get a sociology degree in 1897, who made significant contributions in terms of looking at the black population and single-handedly created the study of black folks of America. His idea of the double-consciousness is something that we’re actually still using when we talk about intersectionality.”
Shay Payne, a social work junior, attended the event to support Hines.
“I came out in celebration of Black History Month, and Hines is one of my favorite professors here,” Payne said. “To be honest, I wasn’t going to come. My friend dragged me here, and I thought this was going to be just another Black Lives Matter thing, which I already know. But I actually came and got a lot out of it.”
Graphic design junior Brook Griffin encouraged Payne to go to the event.
“I came out for support,” Griffin said. “We need to start supporting each other besides ‘Taste of Soul.’”
2017 alumna Victoria Davis came back to the event for the same reason.
“The one reason why I celebrate Black History Month is to celebrate the lives of those who died for me to live the life that I have today of privilege,” Davis said. “People think we don’t have privilege. We do have privilege, even as black people. It might not be as much as a white person or people with money, but we do have privilege.”
SVSU will be hosting several more events throughout the month, including a lecture by Michigan State University’s Jade Mitchell on Tuesday, Feb. 13, and ‘A Taste of Soul’ in the Marketplace on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
A free trip to the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University was originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 9, but it will be rescheduled due to snowy conditions.
A complete list of events and times can be found on SVSU’s Black History Month Events webpage.