By Ava Burchell, Staff Writer
The Office of Multicultural Engagement (OME) and various student organizations hosted events during February to celebrate Black History Month. The purpose of Black History Month is to recount and celebrate the contributions that Black people have made in the United States. Events celebrating Black History Month included a visit to the Gettysburg Black History Museum, an alumni panel, a walking tour focusing on Black history in the town of Gettysburg, and free HIV and STI tests in observance of Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
“Our events celebrate Black history in multiple ways, whether educating students on the local Black history they may not be familiar with, showcasing Black art, or providing information on specific topics,” said Assistant Director of the OME Mauricio Novoa.
The events that the OME and student clubs hosted had high attendance and strong participation from both students and staff.
“The walking tours had students and staff engaged and asking questions the whole time, with everyone commenting on how much they learned in the short walk,” said Novoa. “The HIV and STI testing was well attended, which leads to a healthier and more well-informed campus. The Fellaship gave away all their roses [at their Valentine’s Day event], and our library table gave away plenty of backpacks, bookmarks, and chargers.”
Since Gettysburg College is a predominately white institution, Novoa said he believes it is increasingly imperative that students celebrate the histories of diverse communities. The town of Gettysburg is rich in Black history, but many students and visitors have limited knowledge about it.
“With our programs, we were incredibly invested in local Black history because in the specific fascination of one historical event in the presentation of this town, the stories and legacies that span centuries often get lost, and students and residents of Gettysburg go their whole times living here without knowing the entirety of what makes Gettysburg what it is,” said Novoa.
The Gettysburg African Student Association (GASA) hosted a handful of creative events in observance of Black History Month. The purpose of GASA is to create an African student union, educate students about African culture and history, and strengthen cultural ties with other student organizations.
GASA president Fadekemi Agboola ’24 shared how GASA has been promoting dialogues about African culture through their events.
“We started the semester with our first general body meeting titled ‘Too African or Not African Enough.’ We had dialogues about what it meant to be born on the continent, growing up in another country, and all the various nuances that come with that. Different experiences and stories were shared, and it made the club members connect more to each other,” said Agboola.
After that meeting, they hosted an event called “Love Island: GASA Edition” and another general body meeting titled “Celebrating African Love.” On Friday, Feb. 24, GASA hosted an Afrobeat Party.
“This event is to celebrate the cultural roots of Africans,” said Agboola. “Music is tied to our roots as Africans and the common tune that every single African identifies with is Afrobeat, which unites us together. In the spirit of Black History month, we hope to promote this cultural tune with the rest of Gettysburg College.”
As Black History Month comes to an end, students can reflect on their experiences from these well-attended events and use them to continue their exploration into local Black history and the contributions of the Black community.