Black History Month is an annual observance in February to remember the important people and events in black history.
At Lehigh, the celebration started with a visit to the Apollo Theater in New York City. The music hall, well-known for African American popular music and entertainers, celebrated its 85th anniversary with an open house.
The goal of holding Black History Month events around the university is to empower students, staff and faculty members to explore the history and traditions within the month, and share experiences for a history that is deeply rooted, said Clara Buie, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Buie said traveling to the Apollo Theater was a great way to focus on the history and importance of the Apollo. Students enjoyed the theater’s additional programming that celebrated its legacy as a center of black culture.
Office of Multicultural Affairs marketing and communications assistant Aisha Abdulkarimu, ‘20, said it was important to visit the Apollo Theater to recognize African American talent.
“When it comes to minorities and representation in Hollywood and films, it has lacked so much representation,” Abdulkarimu said. “It’s dominated by white people and it’s unfair.”
As another part of Black History Month, Adulkarimu hosted a Real Talk Series event called “The Evolution of Natural Hair,” where members discussed and learned about understanding and recognizing different hair types. Students, staff and faculty members talked about the natural hair movement and shared their own experiences and stories.
At the event, Adulkarimu discussed the history of curlier hair textures and how they have been viewed in the professional world.
“It was a well-needed conversation that I always wanted to have,” Adulkarimu said.
The event sparked a lot of other conversations among the group, allowing people to relate and find commonalities. Adulkarimu said she looks forward to hosting more events revolving around natural hair.
Another event was a panel discussion for the Divine Nine, a collaborative organization of nine historically black international fraternities and sororities. Lehigh alumni and current members of the Divine Nine spoke about their traditions and their importance at Lehigh University.
Julius Wibisono, ‘20, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, talked about the importance of bringing more recognition to cultural Greek organizations.
“We’re struggling to find both people to join and for people to come out to our events,” Wibisono said. “We do a lot as a chapter and sometimes its hard for us to find exposure.”
Wibisono said the small attendance at Divine Nine events often shows the lack of awareness that the Lehigh community has for the council.
“It tells Lehigh, ‘hey we exist,’” he said. “It speaks volumes about how much knowledge Lehigh has about our culture.”
Coming together for rich conversations is crucial, according to Buie. She said she believes that there needs to be more appreciation for Black History Month at Lehigh.
“I think it’s without saying for all of our heritage month celebrations, and the idea is to get other identities to be a part of the conversation,” Buie said. “We really want the community to be able to engage, learn and celebrate the different heritages that are represented on our campus.”