WKU community rings in Black History Month with opening ceremony

Alexandria Anderson, News reporter

The Black History Month Opening Ceremony was held on Tuesday evening inside the Harbaugh Club at Houchens-Smith Stadium. The event featured speakers and performances from various black student groups on campus.

Christopher Bussell, Black Student Alliance peer coordinator and mentor and one of the kickoff’s hosts, explained the reason behind holding the event.

“It’s a way to let people know that we’re here and to kick off the month of black history,” Bussell said. “It’s also like the pre-event to the rest of the month. I feel like as a PWI [predominantly white institution] black history is not really the focus, so it’s important we have this.”

The evening began with opening remarks from members of the Black Student Alliance, welcoming the community for their attendance and previewing what recognitions would be given during the event.

Amazing Tones of Joy, the WKU gospel choir, then performed a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Niya Warner, a biology major and member of the choir, spoke on the importance of performing at the event.

“I feel that it enhances black history in a type of way, its motive is sought to be seen in the past but we’re actually making history in the present and in the moment,” Warner said. “For us to actually be able to perform, my children and my grandchildren will be able to see this change and see this legacy. It makes me feel so happy and it makes my family happy, and we want to spread this to everyone.”

Before food was served, Cassandra Little gave a presentation on the meaning of “soul food” to black communities and how its legacy still creates impact today.

“[Soul food] is always feeding into our senses and nourishing our spirit,” Little said. “You have to treasure those little pieces of your history because they’re all part of you.”

Students in attendance felt that the event and the other events that will follow later in the month knit a closer community and provide the chance to feel closer to each other.

“Personally I am an immigrant from West Africa so I feel like these events bring me closer, especially being at a PWI, it makes me feel closer to home,” Aicha Soumare, a sophomore biology major, said.

The keynote speaker was Tamera Lott, president of the NAACP WKU chapter and graduate research assistant with the history department, who first thanked the founders of Black History Month before performing a spoken word piece titled “Black Perseverance”. She also announced that the NAACP has been reactivated as a college chapter at WKU.

The various speakers encouraged community building and celebration for what the month’s events have in store.

“It made me realize that there is a community here,” Kani Aidara, a sophomore computer science major, said. “I’m a STEM major, and you don’t realize that there’s such a small community [of black people], especially in STEM fields, so this is a place where we can all be successful together.”

A check for $100 was also given to the founders of Jonesville Academy, a program to help young black and brown men advance their learning, after the BSA penny wars fundraiser last semester. 

Recognition awards were also given at the event. These included an Ambassador of Education award for higher education that went to Lamario Moore and the Dr. Lloren Foster Lift Every Voice award to Tyreon Clark and Aurelia Spaulding. The ISEC top scholars with 3.0 or 4.0 and above GPAs were also announced.

Lamario Moore, assistant director of ISEC, gave the closing remarks.

“And remember, we don’t want just a Black History Month,” Moore said, pushing students to engage in Black History Month activities. “We want the whole year.”

News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected]