The University of Indianapolis Black Student Association is working toward its goals of unity and awareness by sponsoring events for Black History Month. BSA Co-President Deondra Billingsley sees the celebration as more than a chance for African Americans to remember their past.
“I think people forget that black history is everyone’s history,” Billingsley said.
BSA Co-President Kyra Monroe feels that Black History Month is quite important and deserved.
“Everyone should be recognized for the positive upbringing of our country,” Monroe said.
According to Billingsley, BSA engages students through a variety of inclusive programs and events. BSA Events Coordinator Anthony Bigham said that the association is “young people trying to make an impact on the campus about unity.”
In accordance with their goals, BSA, along with Campus Program Board, Indianapolis Student Government and Student Affairs, developed events and activities to engage students in the celebration and remembrance of black history.
Billingsley approached the event-planning process with a reflection on last year’s events. She said that she hoped to create a focus on history in contrast to the social events of last year.
“I feel like I can’t go ahead with my future without knowing my past,” Billingsley said.
For one of the first events of the month, Nikki Giovanni came to UIndy on Feb. 5, to deliver a diversity lecture. Bigham found her lecture to be quite powerful and came away with a strong message.
“She was telling us we’re only going to be young for so long, so live moments, … see the world [and] experience life,” Bigham said.
Bigham felt that Giovanni not only provided inspirational advice for students’ futures, but also proved to be connected with Billingsley’s goal to focus on historical knowledge.
“She has so much wisdom throughout history between the good stuff and the bad stuff,” Bigham said.
To expand on the focus of history, Billingsley decided to approach Director of the Institute for Civic Leadership and the Mayoral Archives and Associate Professor of History and Political Science Edward Frantz with the idea of an event focusing on music.
According to Monroe, Frantz discussed how past African American music impacted the music of today.
Bigham believes the event allowed BSA to expand into other areas of campus, uniting with others through music.
“It’s helping us with our goals, connecting us with other people on the campus,” Bigham said.
BSA is also hosting Hump Day Tables every Wednesday this month to promote awareness through activities and trivia.
Overall, BSA hopes that the events and activities for Black History Month bring students together.
“It helps us all bridge the gap between different cultures here on campus,” Billingsley said.
Billingsley also hopes this month helps students “gain an understanding of why this is such a big notion in our culture.”
Bigham agrees with Billingsley about the importance of the month as a time to both reflect and look ahead.
“It gives us a month to really reflect and look at the past and just be in tune with ourselves,” she said.
Monroe felt that this month provided BSA with the responsibility of educating students about the past and promoting awareness.
“I hope students gain a different understanding of African American culture and that it’s not everything you see on TV,” Monroe said.
The Black History Month events will conclude on Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. Arts through the Years will bring students together through music and poetry.