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Letter to the Editor: The impact of Black History Month

Letter+to+the+Editor%3A+The+impact+of+Black+History+Month
Kaitlyn Close

During Black History Month, it is important to hear from those who are impacted the most. Two Black professors, Nii Okine and Folarin Oguntoyinbo, were each asked five questions about their experience with Black history. Below are their responses to the questions they chose to answer.

 

Nii Okine, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, shares what Black History Month means to him. 

 

Who in Black history has inspired you and why?

 Two people in Black history have been particularly inspiring to me. 

The first person is Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah was the first African-born prime minister of Ghana. He was a leading figure in the Pan-African movement, and his vision and bold leadership helped Ghana become the first colonized African country to gain independence in 1957. Martin Luther King was inspired by Nkrumah’s leadership and often looked to him as an example of nonviolent activism. On the eve of Ghana’s independence, Nkrumah declared that the event would be meaningless without the total liberation of Africa. He understood that the solution to the unfair treatment of people of Africa and African descent worldwide was for Africa to be politically united and economically successful. The second person is President Barack Obama. It is widely recognized that his election was a significant moment in U.S. politics, and for Black Americans, it was a milestone of great symbolic importance. Obama served as a positive role model and broke stereotypes for not only Black Americans but for all people of Africa and African descent during his two-term presidency.

 

If you could meet your Black history hero, who would you meet and what would you want to ask them?

I would love to meet both Nkrumah and Obama. With Nkrumah, I would like to ask him how African unity can be achieved in present times. Africans are not able to travel freely from one country to another, there is no common currency and economic problems are getting worse. With Obama, I would like to ask him how his positive and counter-stereotypical image as an African American affected his policies. I come from a family where I am the first to accomplish certain things, so I understand the pressure that comes with that. I can only imagine how much more pressure there was for him as the first Black president. 

 

Folarin Oguntoyinbo, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences, shares what Black History Month means to him. 

 

Who in Black history has inspired you and why?

I have been immensely inspired by the life and times of Marcus Garvey for the role he played during the Pan-Africanism movement. He selflessly unified and connected people of African descent worldwide. As a notable civil rights activist in the U.S. who supported the Universal Negro Improvement Association, he became the publisher of Negro World newspaper and was involved in labor union for print tradesmen in Kingston. He immensely supported Black emancipation and struggled for separate but equal status for persons of African ancestry. In addition, Garvey significantly contributed to the independence of Black states around the world especially in Liberia and West African countries.   

If you could meet your Black history hero, who would you meet and what would you want to ask them? 

Marcus Garvey is my Black history hero. I would ask him about the lessons he learned in the struggle for liberation and the wisdom to pursue the struggle for the freedom of Africans.     

 

What’s your favorite Black History Month tradition? 

Apart from enjoying the talks and gathering of African Americans at events in February, I particularly like items that enable reminiscence of the origin of African Americans, the traditional arts that depict the struggle for freedom, cultures of Africans as demonstrated through the dressing and African foods.  

 

What excites/inspires you about Black History Month? 

I am excited about Black History Month because it is a month to reflect and celebrate the achievements made by African Americans and showcase the legacy of African Americans across U.S. history as well as society and around the world. It is also an avenue to celebrate many Black heroes and their contributions that led to freedom.

  

Additional comments:

February is Black History Month for the celebration of freedom and to pay tributes to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve equal rights and citizenship in the U.S.

 

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Close, Graphics Editor
Kaitlyn Close (she/her) is a senior Graphic Design major and Digital Marketing minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
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