St. Francis College joins higher education institutions across the country to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans and recognize their central role in U.S. history, as the College commemorates this year's Black History Month, held annually in February.
Among the activities planned this month include a Townhall Meeting for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for students, led by Jeffrey Emil Diaz, SFC Interim Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The SFC community and public can also attend a panel discussion called The Hard Point, focused on social injustice. The event is hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and The Black Student Union (BSU).
BSU is spearheading a slate of other activities for their student peers, including an online trivia contest focused Black history, and an open conversation among students – called Common Ground – aimed at finding areas of agreement around controversial issues. BSU will also use their Instagram account, @sfc.bsu, throughout February to tell stories of historically influential Black Americans.
The full schedule of Black History Month events is below.
Twenty-two percent of SFC students enrolled in fall 2019 identified themselves as Black, reflecting a significant rise from 17 percent in 2010. Five students – Amanda Alexandre, Armani Beaubrun, Terell Howard, Kayshaw Saravia, and Jamore Smart-- founded BSU at SFC in 2019, to give voice to the growing numbers of Black students and bring to the fore issues they advocate. Since then, BSU has hosted guest speakers, discussion groups, trivia nights and social events open to SFC students.
"We're thrilled to once again celebrate Black History Month at SFC, recognizing – as we do every month – the centrality of Black people in all aspects of American life and of the SFC community," said Maliek Sterrett, SFC Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Affairs. "BSU and students throughout SFC are providing incredible leadership to help engage and inform their peers, and we're happy to support them in those efforts."
In summer 2020, SFC President Miguel Martinez-Saenz and members of his cabinet outlined new actions the College would undertake to address issues related to inclusion, equity and inclusion at the institution. Those plans included hiring a chief diversity officer to develop and lead a multi-year diversity strategy, increasing training for faculty and staff, and reviewing and revising the academic curriculum.
As part of that commitment, SFC brought on board Diaz to serve as Interim Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Diaz organizes and oversees a wide range of initiatives intended to bolster a diverse, equitable and inclusive experience for SFC students and employees, by championing student efforts to organize and amplify diverse voices, such as the work being done by BSU.
"In a recent meeting with BSU, we of course talked about Black History Month and how it should be Black History Year," said Diaz. "Black history is American history that needs to be retold with all of its tragedy and triumph. We're deeply committed to creating spaces that respect and elevate the inherent dignity of people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds in the Franciscan tradition. We must be inclusive of all the ways that people are different than one another. Meaningful dialogue focused on awareness and change around sometimes-challenging issues and that occurs with candor, transparency and respect is foundational to real and lasting change. Diversity makes us stronger as a country and a College."
SFC Black History Month Events
Unless noted otherwise, all activities take place on Zoom video conferencing and require advance registration here.
Townhall Meeting for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Sponsored by the Office of the President and Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, SFC students will participate in a conversation about campus climate, support and program initiatives.
When: February 1
Time: 12:20 – 1:45 p.m.
Game Night: Trivia and Guess That Hit (Hosted by BSU)
Game night that tests and educates students on Black history, as well as a "guess that hit song" segment in which students can compete for prizes.
When: February 4
Time: 5 p.m.
Common Ground (Hosted by BSU)
Inspired by the YouTube series Middle Ground, BSU will speak on controversial issues in an enclosed setting with aspirations to come to a common ground.
When: February 11
Time: 11:15 a.m. (Activity period)
Panel Discussion: The Hard Point (Social Injustice) (Hosted by BSU and Office of Multicultural Student Affairs)
When: February 18
Time: 5 p.m.
Registration link to come
Wild'n Out (Hosted by BSU)
A fun and interactive afternoon of events inspired by MTV's hit Show, "Wild N' Out.
When: February 25
Time: 11:15 a.m. (Activity Period)
Open Mic (Hosted by Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Office of Counseling Wellness & Health Promotions)
Calling all poets, singers, rappers, and unheard voices. We welcome you to share your talents with our audience.
When: February 26
Time: 4 p.m.
Black Film Festival
The Office of Residence Life hosts a Black History Month film festival every Tuesday during the month of February. The Office is collaborating with a variety of administrators to show movies by Black creators and facilitate meaningful discussions.
Residents must RSVP in advance to ensure proper social distancing. Administrators will facilitate conversations regarding the Black experience in America and provide support for students throughout the conversation.
All films begin at 6 p.m.
February 2: Do the Right Thing
February 9: Black Panther
February 16: For Colored Girls
February 23: Boyz 'N' The Hood