While celebrating Black History Month has always been important to me, how I celebrate it has changed. I consider it a time to celebrate the achievements, talents, and resilience of the Black community.
Black History Month has always had a special meaning, and I have always given remembrance to the month. However, the meaning and how I acknowledge it has changed as I’ve gotten older and had more experiences in the world.
When I was younger, Black History Month meant being grateful to my ancestors for fighting for my rights as an African American. I acknowledged the month through writing papers on civil rights activists, reading biographies of African American leaders, and visiting African American history museums with my mom.
Now, at 20 years old, as a junior in college in the year 2021, my acknowledgment and meaning of Black History Month means I have taken a different path. I now look at Black History Month as a time of both reflection and assessment. I reflect on the sacrifices that the millions of African Americans have made in order to exercise the rights that I often take advantage of.
More importantly, this past summer has taught me that it also means assessing my role in both a micro and macro level in continuing to fight for the rights of African Americans. I think it is essential to assess and reflect because it shows how far African American people have come as a people, yet how far there still is to go.
I also recognize Black History Month as a time not only to acknowledge the Black trauma, but to even recognize that there is more than just the trauma. There is resilience. I use Black History Month to celebrate my contemporaries and the talents that so many possess. The older I get, the more I realize that Black History Month is not only meant to honor those who came before us, but to celebrate the continuous achievements of African Americans in all areas.
As a college student, I now celebrate Black History Month, in part, through attending events on campus where meaningful conversations regarding Black History are fostered. As a diversity peer educator, I see firsthand the positive experiences and takeaways that Black History Month events create in the student body.
I also serve as secretary of the Charger Alliance, a student-athlete organization created to promote diversity and inclusion. Examining Black history amongst the members of Charger Alliance Group has already brought up relevant topics of conversation that I value having during this month.
Helping out with events, participating in events, and even consuming student organizations’ posts on Black History Month make me feel like Black history is being acknowledged on my campus, which is very important to me. Although my meaning of Black History Month and my celebration of it has changed, it has always remained a significant aspect of my life.
Janae VanBurch ’22 is a political science major at the University of New Haven. She serves as a member of the Campus Health Ambassador Team (CHAT), a diversity peer educator, a wellness peer educator, and secretary of Charger Alliance.