Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass are just a few of the thousands of prominent black figures that are celebrated throughout the month of February. Executive Vice President and Provost Stephen Kolison said it is important to reflect on the contributions that people of color have made throughout the history of the United States.
“Black history included adult slavery, which is, perhaps the most dehumanizing experience and sometimes that perception is hard to overcome as people unfortunately, sometimes choose to view blacks in that context, having come to America in chains,” Kolison said. “They have one of the most horrible experiences that any human being could experience, and sometimes, even not being treated as humans. So, it is good to reflect that now we are understanding [the] circumstances that blacks have contributed to the advancement of America. In a way many of our fellow citizens need to be reminded of that history.”
D’ana Downing, assistant director of arts, non-profit, & communication for Professional Edge Center and co-advisor of Black Student Association, said the idea of celebrating herself and others happens everyday, rather than throughout the month of February. She said Black History Month is about celebrating the triumphs of African-Americans. Kolison agreed and said BHM is a time to reflect on those triumphs.
“There are a lot of black individuals who have done a lot and that is why Black History Month it is very good to remind, otherwise people sometimes would default to how blacks came to this country,” Kolison said. “That’s very sad, very unfortunate, but when we pause in February to begin to reflect [on] the contributions in the arts, in the humanities, in social justice, in economics, in science, in medicine, it is tremendous.”
“I would say it’s a combination of a lot of people, obviously it’s not going to be boiled down to one person. Martin Luther King Jr, Jackie Robinson, anyone that really had a big impact, did something that was special that has directly affected what I’ve been able to do, because without people like Jackie Robinson, or Oscar Robertson, in sports, I probably wouldn’t be able to play soccer here and do everything that I can… It’s kind of a big deal to me to think that without people doing important stuff like that, that I wouldn’t be in the situation that I’m in.”
Stephen Kolison — Executive President and Provost
“I’m a big fan of Barack Obama. I’m so inspired by him and I used to tell people that I could not get enough of just following Obama and a man with a very not only a great gifts, but the gift of kindness and caring for people. Someone who would think that it was important for all our fellow citizens to have access to healthcare, to m,e is a tremendous legacy. It doesn’t matter what our political views may be. But being sick and being able to get healthcare to me it is something that we all as Americans should want.”
“I’d have to say the Obamas. They’re definitely very inspirational, and just very elegant and I just love what they’ve done… How they carry themselves and they are a very respectful example for young adults.”
Chloe Tyson — Junior Communication Major
“Michelle Obama inspires me. When she was in the White House, people attacked her for so many different things and she stood by her beliefs and didn’t waiver. She herself was an amazing human outside of the presidency. She could’ve been an influential figure without her husband being the president.”
“I have two people who inspire me, one being Will Smith and one being Martin Luther King [Jr.]. Will Smith because at a hard time for the African American community he somehow found a way to make it in life so to speak…. He was in the very popular show, [the Fresh Prince of Bel Air]. So during those times it was actually a very difficult period for the African-American community but he just found a way to make it, safely without even causing a problem. It shows me that anyone can make it. No matter what’s happening in life, they can still make it.”
Andre Givens — Director for Undergraduate Enterprise and Engagement
“Over my life, I’ve come in contact with several individuals thats been very inspirational. Of course my mom, she’s always inspired me to be the best person I can be. Looking through what my mom went through as a single parent, some of the challenges and diversity she was able to overcome has been very motivating for myself and my siblings and today my mom continues to break barriers in our family and constantly deliver fantastic results as a mother.”
“I have multiple inspirations when it comes to Black History Month. I would have to say Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me to chase after my dreams and realize the beauty of my dreams. Malcolm X made me realize don’t let where you’re from determine where you’re going… My mother and my father, they are more of an inspiration when it comes to Black History Month, when it comes to anything… I am very inspired how they’re very established form where they came from, they both came from nothing and thanks to them, I have an opportunity to be here at the University of Indianapolis.”
Caricatures by Ethan Gerling