The Development of Black History Month

The contributions of Blacks in the New World have dated to over a century before independence was granted to the United States. The first African slaves arrived on the shores of America in 1619, without knowledge that Europeans would subject them to the harshest displays of inhumanity on new soil. However, the cuffed hands and shackled feet of the men, women and children have developed the foundations of America. African American contributions have helped shape our society into the privileged nation in which we live. African Americans have been inventors, doctors, writers, scientists, movers, shakers, creators and innovators with and without the bounds that were placed upon them by the Europeans.

For many years, a Eurocentric view of history overlooked the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to the United States. In 1926 Dr. Carter G. Woodson pioneered the celebration of National Negro History Week. This was celebrated annually on the second week of February. In 1976, National Negro History Week became Black History Month. For the past 35 years, African Americans have been celebrated and recognized for their accomplishments to society.

The goal of Elon’s month-long celebration will be to

  • address issues related to Blacks on campus;
  • promote an awareness and understanding of Black experiences, and
  • begin a permanent series of programming that further enriches the appreciation of Black intellectual and cultural life and contributions to Elon and the world at large.

Responsibilities of the Steering Committee

The Black History Month Steering Committee will lead the campus community in its efforts to recognize and celebrate Black achievement and to address issues affecting Black life and culture. While the committee will not be responsible for planning and coordinating all campus events related to Black History Month celebrations in February, they will encourage, solicit and suggest events, issues and speakers of interest for all campus organizations, departments and programs. In addition, the committee will act as the clearinghouse for marketing those events via its website and the Black History Month Cultural Calendar.

The 2014 Black History Month Steering Committee

  • Shaunta Alvare, Archives Librarian, Belk Library
  • Antonio Austin ’14, President, National Pan-Hellenic Council
  • Adam Bell, Assistant Director, Student Activities
  • Kimberly Edwards ’14, Black History Month Student Coordinator & AAASE Student Assistant
  • Kristopher Jiles – Student Government Association Representative
  • (Carl) Gregory Hairston, Assistant Director of Marketing, Athletics
  • Prudence Layne, Associate Professor, Department of English and Coordinator, African and African-American Studies (Chair)
  • Ethan Moore, Coordinator of University Art Collection & Instructor – General Studies
  • Durice White, Assistant Director pf Alumni Engagement
  • Michael Williams, Director of Campus Center Operations and Conferences
  • Jamane Yeager, Reference/Electronic Access Librarian