As the academic calendar flips its pages to February, ASU becomes one of hundreds of institutions celebrating Black History Month — a month-long observance highlighting the culture, resilience, contributions, and achievements of Black people.
This month, Black student organizations at ASU reflected on the importance of inclusion, community and knowledge as they prepare to host vibrant celebrations across all four campuses.
Tia Reid, a junior studying sports journalism and president of the Black Student Union at ASU on the downtown Phoenix campus, said that this month’s celebrations and resources are critical for inclusion.
"There is a necessity to recognize the different cultural and heritage months, like Black History Month," Reid said. "Black students on campus need to feel celebrated and have this time to come together as a community and be celebrated by those outside the community as well."
Amara Williams, a sophomore studying fashion business management and the downtown Black Student Union’s social media coordinator, said she’s noticed the small number of Black students in her classes.
She said that Black History Month is not only for Black students but also for the majority — her non-Black peers.
"It makes Black History Month so important," Williams said. "From my personal experiences, I know that I haven’t seen many Black people on campus, so it is important to let other non-Black students know what is going on and talk about it."
Reid said that college campuses are a "unique place" for Black History Month’s backdrop.
"It’s a better learning environment where you have built-in diversity, not only where people are from or how they’ve grown up, but also the diversity of racial backgrounds," she said. "It provides opportunities for people to learn about different groups of people that they’ve never been around before in their life."
Williams, Reid and Abrielle Sanuth, who is a junior studying criminology and criminal justice and the treasurer of the downtown Black Student Union, said that they are excited for students to take a deep dive into more than the fight for social justice but also Black people’s most influential figures and their impacts on the world.
"I’d love to see Black people recognized for other things than their fight for social justice," Reid said. "We have a lot of important figures in media, academic fields and other disciplines that are so important."
Game nights focused on growing knowledge about general Black history will be played on all four campuses during the first half of the month:
Learn about Black history through Jeopardy and enjoy food from local Black-owned businesses.
When: Feb. 1 from 6-8 p.m.
Where: Fusion on First's Flex Space, Downtown Phoenix campus
Host: Programming and Activities Board, Black Student Union
Celebrate and learn the significant contributions made by Black individuals throughout history. In teams, compete and discuss topics such as music, sports and science.
When: Feb. 6 from 6:30-8 p.m.
Where: Hayden Library, Tempe campus
Host: Black Medical Student Association
Love Island comes to life for this Valentine’s Day event. Six bachelorettes and six bachelors compete in this game for love, exactly like the Netflix series.
When: Feb. 7 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Senita Ballroom A, Tempe campus
Host: Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, African Students Association
Join this immersive and educational event, which honors the significance of Black history using interactive games that test your knowledge.
When: Feb. 8 from 5-6:30 p.m.
Where: Online (Zoom link provided upon RSVP)
Host: The Forge at Barrett
Join BSU’s West family for a fun community event with games and food.
When: Feb. 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: UCB 241, West Campus
Hosts: Black Student Union
Students looking to celebrate this month with arts and entertainment should consider attending these events:
Join Gordon Common CAs for a viewing of "Hidden Figures," a film about three trailblazing Black women in NASA.
When: Feb. 28 from 6-9 p.m.
Where: Gordon Commons, Downtown campus
Host: Gordon Commons CAs
This event focuses on the cultural awareness of Black History Month while students learn about abstract art made by a Black female artist.
When: Feb. 7 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Backus Mall, Polytechnic campus
Host: Changemaker Central Polytechnic
BSU West Valley is hosting a hip-hop class, which is being taught by one of their executive members.
When: Feb. 7 from 5-6 p.m.
Where: SDFC West Valley MP3
Host: Black Student Union, Sun Devil Fitness & Wellness
There will also be events open to the public, including a “Twin Flames” exhibit at the George Floyd Memorial, the Color Cabaret, and an International Jazz Day celebration with singer and actress Jade Johnson.
Sanuth said that she is happy there are so many events hosted by Black student organizations, but she doesn’t expect much from the University’s participation.
"A lot of student-led organizations are hosting events or doing presentations or reaching out to each other," Sanuth said. "But when it comes to the University, I don’t tend to hear much coming from them."
Reid attributed this problem to the University’s demographics.
"It’s a predominantly white institution; that’s just kind of the way that it is," Reid said. "It is the Black organizations that put everything together, do the brunt of the work, because it is personal."
Reid said that often, Black organizations on campus have the thought that if they "don’t do it, it won’t be done" by the institutions they navigate.
Sanuth said that the University could do a better job by offering year-round education and celebration through newsletters or speakers and empowering the voices of Black students year-round.
Williams also voiced the importance of recognizing the community all twelve months of the year.
"I would appreciate (it) if it would be more than ‘this is your month,'" Williams added. "It is not every day that we are being celebrated outside of February."
Regardless, all three members said they are excited for people from all backgrounds and campuses to come together in the next month.
"I am just pretty happy that on the first day of Black History Month, we’re getting right into it," Williams said. "We’re able to bring large groups of Black and non-Black students and say, ‘We’re here, and we’re taking up space.’"
Edited by Katrina Michalak, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan