GW’s Black Peoples’ Union is hosting its annual Black History Celebration, pushing beyond February’s Black History Month to continue pride-inspiring programs.
“The goal we set out at the beginning of the year was to help our students academically, culturally and socially,” said BPU President James Allen. “I think we are serving that purpose through the Black History Celebration.”
The celebration opened Feb. 1 with a performance by Sensory Perceptions. “A Mother’s Apology” highlighted the skits presented. This poem introduces an African woman apologizing to her son before she grabbed him and jumped into shark-infested water to escape slavery in America.
James Horton, an American civilization and history professor, spoke about “slave history.” He said Africans from different tribes spoke different languages, and described how they communicated with each other when forced into slavery.
Horton also discussed slaves’ singing at the pace-maker by which they picked cotton. This way, no one would be whipped by the overseer for working too slow, he said.
Five black GW students sat on a panel for “Census of Our People,” a discussion of the black experience at GW.
Students addressed issues ranging from getting black students together on campus for events, to whether or not students enjoy their years at GW.
“I don’t see the black experience at GW as being hostile,” said Emeka Olumba, a junior from Nigeria. “It might appear that way because there are so few black people here, but if you’re looking for overt racism at this University, you’re not going to find it.”
Senior Stuart Washington disagreed and said he recently was stopped by a University Police Department officer and forced to show student identification while he was chalking a sidewalk for an on-campus event.
“That was the second time that has happened to me,” Washington said. “Immediately, the officers didn’t think that I could be a student here. I’ve never seen that happen to a white student.”
BPU also hosted “Showcase of Black Poets,” an open-mike event in the Riverside Hall Cafe, during which participants recited poetry about religion, black love, gangster life and other issues.
Poet Louise Wheat Gray, who said some of her best memories were born from her college experience, passed around chocolate kisses as she read her poem of the same name.
Upcoming events for the Black History Celebration include a program on black writers, March 10; a discussion of black sexuality, March 5; and the annual Alpha Kappa Alpha and BPU fashion show, March 7, which will donate proceeds to Grandma’s House, an organization that helps African Americans with diabetes.
“The whole experience was enlightening,” Allen said. “The turnout could’ve been better, but overall I was happy with this year’s Black History Celebration.”-Monique L. Harding contributed to this report.