Troy students honor Black History Month

by Libby Thornton

February is Black History Month, and Troy is honoring the important occasion in numerous ways.

The John Robert Lewis Leadership Conference was held on Troy’s campus Feb. 3-4. The conference was named for the Civil Rights leader after he died in 2020. 

“African Americans have a long history of resistance to oppression through leadership,” said Dr. Kathryn Tucker, a lecturer of history. “It is something that, I think, the Black community has always been particularly successful at, and it holds as a very strong tradition within the community.”

A portion of the event was held in the Lamar P. Higgins ballrooms in the Trojan Center. Higgins was the first Black Student Government Association president at Troy. Higgins, who graduated in 1981, was appointed to the Board of Trustees in the late 90s, where he built up the Rosa Parks Museum and established the leadership conference. 

Each year, February is assigned a theme by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) that recognizes past struggles in order to build understanding. The theme for 2023 is Black Resistance. 

According to the ASALH, Black History Month began over 100 years ago when Black historian Carter G. Woodsen helped put together a celebration of knowledge and history to honor the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation.

The remembrance began as a weeklong celebration, and was extended to a month in 1976. Historians state February was chosen partly due to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, Americans who played a large role in Black history.

The Panhellenic Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Education, Sequoia Tinnin, is using this month to recognize Black figures on Instagram. 

“I want to include people who are making modern history and give people resources to learn more about them,” Tinnin said. “I feel those people are not highlighted enough. It is important to show younger minorities that someone their age is making history.

“It’s not just black and white photos of Martin Luther King Jr. but there’s colored images of people actively making a difference.”

The pictures can be found on Instagram  at @troypanhellenicdiversity.

The Office of Civic Engagement is holding Coffee and Conversation events to promote authentic conversations regarding race throughout the month. The last two will be held on Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 from 3:30-5:00 p.m., and students can register by visiting the office’s Instagram page at @troy_service. 

The celebrations on campus will continue into March as  the History Department expands its annual McPherson Mitchell Lecture in Southern History into a two-day event.

According to Tucker, they plan to explore the history of Clotilda, a slave ship that illegally brought slaves into Mobile, and the formation of Africatown as a result. 

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