Although February is black history month, members of the Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. aim to inform students of current black issues year round.
“Say It Loud: Black Knowledge Beyond February,” is a forum created by the sorority to highlight issues affecting blacks and examine the current state of blacks in America.
The event began last semester, and the second installment occurred Monday night.
The program began with a welcome by Vivian Momah in the Nigerian language of Ebo and an African dance performance. A panel of speakers with different areas of expertise discussed topics related to black people.
Kimberly Brown, 20, a member of the sorority who organized and moderated the forum, said she wants the event to continue every semester and to encourage students to apply what they learn to their everyday life.
Karimah Bell, chairperson sorority’s of the Social Action committee helped organize the program.
“Even though we attend an HBCU, many students on campus aren’t aware of the current state of our culture or what is going on around us,” said Bell, 23, a pharmacy student from Tampa.
The sorority announced the winners of the sorority’s essay contest on the role of hip-hop in the black community at the end of the event.
The first place winner, Alex Acosta, 18, a freshman general studies student from Atlanta won a book scholarship for his essay.
“I’ve always been passionate about hip-hop, because it is the culture I live,” he said.
Second place winner, Jasmin Conner, 19, won a Best Buy gift certificate.
“The forum helped me focus on how to better myself and take advantage of going to an HBCU,” said Conner, a first-year business administration student from New Jersey.
The panel included state representative Curtis Richardson; Calvin McFadden, pastor of the Community of Faith; African-American history professor David Jackson; African Psychology professors Dana Denard and Huberta Jackson-Loman; and attorney Maya Holman.
The panelists agreed that the enslavement of black Americans plays a major factor in the problems that affect them today.
“We as a people are still lost and we have to ask what we were like before the great holocaust of slavery,” Denard said.
Jackson examined the progress of blacks.
“If you look beyond slavery, African Americans have not made much progress because our African ancestors had a rich culture and many African Americans today are not aware of that.”
The panelists also discussed the importance of blacks finding their sense of purpose.
McFadden offered a religious perspective to the forum.
“While some say the black church is losing its savor and vision, the church still has an important role in holding the black community together,” he said.
Richardson disagreed with the statement that blacks do not have a powerful place in politics.
“We want as many African Americans elected as possible if they represent our issues in government,” he said.
Richardson said electing officials who represent black issues is more important than electing officials simply because they are black or are members of the Democratic party.
Contact Ebonie Ledbetter at firstname.lastname@example.org