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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Black History Month Celebrates Past and Future

    People of all ethnicities came out to the Annual Black History Month Closing Program to celebrate the accomplishments of black people of the past and push for a stronger black community in the future.

    “To me, black history is American history,” said Cheryl Chambers, associate dean and director of multicultural affairs. “This is a time we reflect on African-American heritage and people who have helped the welfare of all Americans.”

    The Stony Brook Gospel Choir opened the ceremony by singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

    Throughout the evening, people spoke about the “unsung” heroes of black history. It was, as the speakers kept pointing out, writing a new chapter in black history.

    They spoke about Daisy Bates, president of the NAACP during the incident of the “Little Rock Nine” in 1957; Ann Robinson, who organized the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955; and Betty Shabazz, who fought for human rights even after the death of her husband, Malcolm X.

    “We are the future of the black family,” said Michelle Mbekeani, a senior German and political science double-major. “I hope we can give our children the fairy tale that was once only read about.”

    Mbekeani won the Black History Month Essay & Speech contest, received her prize and read her essay to all those in attendance.

    Later, she retook the stage to announce “Book Drive for Children in The Republic of Malawi, Africa,” her initiative to improve literacy rates among Malawian children. About 63 percent of Malawians can read, according to the CIA World Factbook.

    Outside of the speeches, the Stony Brook Cadence Step Team performed a skit that Ndome Essoka, a junior health science major from Cameroon, said they had been practicing for nearly a month.

    “It’s just a way of appreciating the people of the past and keep perpetuating the success and achievement and spreading the knowledge,” Essoka said.

    Despite some technical difficulties near the end of the ceremony, the mood was festive and welcoming. The last segment of the program was a slideshow in remembrance of those African-Americans who had passed away in 2010.

    However, to some, the celebration of Black History Month didn’t end that night.

    “Black History Month is something that should be commemorated throughout the year,” said Andre Noah, a senior biology and psychology double-major.

    Freshman political science major Monique Grant agreed.

    “There’s a special time where you have to take time to celebrate the people who took time out of their lives,” Grant said.

    

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