Black History Month 2024

Black History Month 2024

During February each year, we celebrate Black History Month. This month-long celebration offers an opportunity to honor the achievements of Black Americans, past and present. It’s also a time to acknowledge the hardships that the Black community has faced throughout the history of the United States as it has fought for equal rights, and to reflect on our hope for a more just and peaceful future.

The observance began as a week-long celebration to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Every year, Black History Month is assigned a national theme for reflection and inspiration. The 2024 Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Arts.” This theme pays homage to Black art as not only a hallmark of American culture, but also a tool for resistance, peacemaking, justice, and equality.

Jesuit’s Black Student Union (BSU) held a celebration at Flex to celebrate Black History Month, complete with Black History Trivia about historical events, pop culture, sports, and more. BSU encouraged Jesuit students to learn more about important historical Black figures. We sat down with BSU leaders Asaph Tekeste ’25, Jada Williams ’25, and Hana Curran ’24 to speak about the importance of this year’s theme, the impacts Black art has had on their lives, and their experiences in BSU.

 

This year’s Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Arts.” Why do you think it’s important to celebrate the arts? 

Asaph: “I think it's important since, for a long time, it wasn't an option for African Americans to get publication and be allowed to be seen as artists. Now, it's important to have that representation in the community today.”

Jada: “It’s a backstory of where we came from, because our arts were how we expressed our joy and our pain and our troubles. For example, poetry used to be big in the Black community, and now rap is. It’s the same thing, just developed over time.”

Hana: “The arts are sometimes overshadowed. It’s important because it’s a different part of African American history to look at.”

 

Is there a piece of African American art, whether it be visual art, film, music, or literature, that has made an impact on you?

Asaph: “Fences by August Wilson. We read the play in class and I really liked it. It was a nice way to see Black representation, because it was all Black people playing Black characters and telling a story about their lives. The whole story held a lot of weight.”

Jada: “The art form that has the biggest impact on me is music, because there are so many different genres and so many different ways to express yourself. It’s one of my favorite things, because I like to sing. I think my favorite throwback group is The Gap Band.” 

Hana: “Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. It’s a poetry book and it’s a super quick read, but it’s really impactful. I also really enjoy R&B music, and I’ve been getting into Daniel Caesar and Sza recently.”

 

Is there a piece of African American art or an art form that has been passed down to you?

Asaph: “My grandma knits a lot. She doesn’t live in America, she lives in Eritrea where I’m from, and when I was born she came and knitted me a bunch of stuff. And I still have it, it’s kept away for when I have kids. I don’t see her now, so it’s nice to have that memory.”

Jada: “My grandma liked to sew. I used to go to my grandma’s house and bring my sewing machine, and she’d teach me how to sew.”

Hana: “I was adopted, so I don’t really have anything from my family. But I do have traditional Ethiopian baptismal outfits and crosses in my room.”

 

What made you want to become a BSU leader?

Jada: “I came in freshman year not knowing any of the Black community at Jesuit, and I didn't have many Black friends. I didn't want that to happen to anybody else, especially knowing that I had family members coming to Jesuit. I wanted to make sure that they were comfortable too, and make sure that all the incoming freshmen and transfer students had a safe place to be.”

Hana: “I just wanted to be more involved than I was before. I like participating and speaking at assemblies, so I jumped at the chance to get more involved. I’m the Communications representative, and I want to do communications and marketing in college, so I thought that this was a great start."

 

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