While the month of February is often known for its short duration and Valentine’s Day, this time of each year is also recognized and celebrated as Black History Month. The CSUSB community held their annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast in the Coussoulis Arena on January 20, 2020.
The event was attended by prominent figures from all over the San Bernardino community, such as Mayor John Valdivia and Eloise Gomez Reyes as a member of the 47th district of the California State Assembly.
Keynote speaker Pastor Dwight Radcliff said, “Oftentimes when we come to MLK Celebrations, the conversation is monopolized by the black-white binary of race and racism.”
However, Pastor Radcliff reminded the audience about Martin Luther King Jr. being bigger than simply focusing on black and white issues, but also wanting racial equity for all.
7th Ward City Council candidate, Damon L. Alexander, mentioned, “This event was wonderful and we must never forget from whence we came from.”
The origins of this month stem from the Harvard-attending historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland, who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This association was founded in Chicago on September 9, 1915, as it focused on researching and bringing light to Pan-African achievements.
In 1926, the association began to change its identity and became more popular due to its sponsorship of National Negro History Week which fell in the second week of February.
Soon enough, in 1976, former President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month – and every president thereafter has followed suit.
This 40th year of celebration was held not only to recognize the life of Dr. King but to act as a prelude to wonderful events coming up for Black History Month on campus.
As a representative of the California State Assembly’s 47th District, Prince Ogidikpe reflects on the importance of the MLK Prayer Breakfast event and its connection to Black History Month.
“It’s a great prelude to Black History Month. It’s always wonderful that we can come together to celebrate those that have fought on our behalves,” said Ogidikpe.
As a former ASI President of CSUSB, Ogidikpe had always been an advocate for the Pan-African community on campus before and after the month of February.
“Now, do I think Black History Month is enough for us as a people? No, I do not, since I do think every month should be Black History Month,” Ogidikpe exclaimed.
The theme of this year’s Black History Month is “African Americans and the Vote,” in remembrance of the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave Black men the right to vote.
“I would simply say to other races: Some time ago we couldn’t, but today we can. Some time ago, some people couldn’t drink from the same water fountain, but now we can,” said Ogidikpe.
Prominent groups on campus like Black Student Union, Student African American Brotherhood, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council have been planning since last year for this month to be a success for their community.
CSUSB’s Athletics Department has even designated the Men’s Basketball game on February 29, 2020 as a Black History Month Blackout, presented by Baker’s Drive-Thru.
The new Fan Engagement Coordinator for Athletics stated that he wanted to make this largest attended game of the season for support of the program and bringing the community together.
If students want to know more about the events happening this month, they can visit the Cross Cultural Center in the Student Union so they can support the Pan-African Community.