AIC Celebrates Black History Month


Bianca Figueroa-Santana

Students show off their reading material at Blind Date with a Book.

Ajanay Hughes Pearson, Staff Writer

This year, AIC celebrated Black History Month with a variety of different events hosted by different organizations on campus. There were a total of twelve events hosted across campus in celebration of Black History Month including a concert with Malado Music. “Blind Date with a Book” was an event in celebration of Black authors. There was also a luncheon with President Hubert Benitez, and a conversation centered around Black Mental Health. The Center for Diversity Education and P.R.I.D.E. did a great job of celebrating Black culture in different ways, through art, and through history.

This year marked 47 years since President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in the United States. The fight for Black History Month started in 1915 with Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland when they founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The purpose of the ASNLH was to dedicate research to promoting the achievements of Black Americans and other peoples of African descent. The ASNLH, later known as the ASALH, held the first-ever Negro History week in 1926. Black Americans nationwide loved how the ASNLH was celebrating Black history, which encourages communities and people to celebrate their culture and history as well.

The celebration of Black Americans was especially crucial during the civil rights movement. It was so important that the celebration went from “Negro History Week” to Black History Month at many colleges. The celebration of Black culture and history helped keep civil rights activists and people in Black communities united and strong. It reminded so many of what they were fighting for in some of the darkest times. Over the last decades, racial tensions continue to rise because of things like police brutality. Representation of Black Americans is also important.

According to the AIC website, 23% of undergraduate and graduate students at AIC are Black or African American. 23% is a high percentage of students in comparison to schools like Springfield College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. With the high percentages of Black students at AIC, celebrating Black History Month is pressing.

List of events for Black History Month at AIC. (Ajanay Hughes Pearson)

I interviewed Antoinette O’Connor, one of the attendees of the “Blind Date with a Book,” an event where books were wrapped up so that you couldn’t see what they were before you opened them. Each wrapped book had a little description on the wrapping paper. She said that she “felt like this event was great!” By the time she got to the event, most of the books were gone and students were flowing in and out of the Center for Student Engagement. She continued by telling me how excited she was to have picked up a book about a young fashion designer in New York. O’Connor also said, “It was so empowering to see so many Black authors represented at AIC.”

Books on display for the “Blind Date with a Book” event. (Bianca Figueroa-Santana)
Isaiah Darden attended the Blind Date with a Book event. (Bianca Figueroa-Santana)

The Luncheon with the President was held in the Stinger Pub, and offered a chance for students to get to know President Benitez, and to voice how AIC can better support Black and Brown students. Building a stronger working relationships between the administration and the students can help both sides in the long run to see each other’s points of view. Many students said they felt “heard” by President Benitez.

Another event, “Black + Mental Health + Matters” was held to help create a space for Black students and allies to see the importance of Black Mental Health and what makes Black Mental Health unique. The Center for Diversity and Education collaborated with Art with Impact not only to start a conversation on Black Mental Health, but to show the resources available on and around campus to students. The event also demonstrated how art can be used to help with Mental Health.

Everyone at the event created poems to help them remember themselves whenever they needed. One student, Eve McCray, shared that she “enjoyed the event, and the art history that they used throughout the presentation” was her favorite part.

Overall, students at AIC enjoyed the Black History Month events that were held this year. In the future, I hope that more students can attend in order to help AIC continue to see the importance of hosting events centered around Black culture.

Students show off their reading material at Blind Date with a Book. (Bianca Figueroa-Santana)