The 45th United Black World Month Celebration kicked off Thursday evening with an event hosted by the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center.
United Black World Month, also known as Black History Month, is a month-long celebration of African American history.
The topic of the evening was “Repairing the Breach: Piece by Peace” and finding ways to address this issue.
Katherine Betts, intercultural specialist and one of the organizers of the event, stated that she wanted students to “feel empowered and to be social change agents when they leave.”
“I want people to feel a sense of responsibility as enlightened individuals and to have an impact in their communities,” Betts said.
The event featured national leader and activist Marc Lamont Hill as the keynote speaker. Hill is a nationally recognized journalist, news anchor and a distinguished professor at Morehouse College.
Students came with high expectations for the event with knowledge of Hill’s past appearances on major television news stations such as CNN and FOX News.
“Being a newly-initiated Greek and knowing that he (Dr. Hill) was Greek (active in Greek life), I am really inspired by his public speaking and the topics he has covered. I’m expecting him to talk about popular topics that most people are afraid to talk about, and being able to hear him speak for free is something that I thought I should take advantage of,” said Deontre Gray, a second-year in marketing.
Hill began his speech with a moment of silence for Trayvon Martin, who would have been 20 years old on Feb. 5.
Martin was a 17-year-old black high school student who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Martin’s death spurred thousands of protests throughout the country, which led to heightened racial tensions. On July 13, 2013, a jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Hill touched on many different topics that affect black students in today’s society and referred to Black History Month as being “more than a month to just celebrate the victories and the heroes.”
Hill also urged students to become more involved in organizations and make a difference in their community.
“If we are going to fix this world, we must be organized and our actions must be organized,” he said. “To act bravely is to speak the truth. Speak the truth though it may be difficult.”
Adaeze Okoli, a third-year economics, said the speech was “inspiring and eye-opening.’”
“You can tell (Hill) is a professor because of the way he weaves in the history and the different stories of the black experience,” Okoli said. “One thing he said that really stood out to me was his quote on black misery and how that is normalized time and time again which is unfortunate, but definitely an awesome speaker.”
Other performances of the night included spoken word artist “7Hykoo.”
The event was emceed by WBNS TV10 news anchor Jerry Revish.
Throughout the month of February, the Multicultural Center will partner with other organizations on campus to celebrate Black History Month with panels, lectures, socials, and other programs.