UMSL kicks off Black History Month with soul

by | Feb 6, 2023

The Office of Student Involvement held its annual Soul Food Celebration as students, faculty members and staff gathered in the MSC.
People stand in line being serviced food at the Black History Month Kickoff

The Office of Student Involvement held its annual Soul Food Celebration to kick off Black History Month programming at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis kicked off Black History Month with a culinary celebration featuring traditional soul food to commemorate the first day of the month-long celebration.

With a bumping musical backdrop, the Soul Food Celebration, hosted by the Office of Student Involvement, featured traditional African American dishes, including catfish, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, cornbread and, for dessert, peach cobbler. The food echoed the meals Black families have had after church or on holidays and celebrated that culture and history.

Students, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate and participate in the custom of Black History Month, which was established by Carter G. Woodson, who created Black History Week in 1926. It was expanded to a month in the 1970s.

Those attending the kickoff event recognized the importance of acknowledging Black History Month and what it means for the history, community and culture of African Americans and the Black diaspora.

Several students at the event spoke of what Black History Month means to them.

Janei Jackson, a freshman majoring in secondary education with an emphasis in history, believes Black History Month symbolizes solidarity.

“To me,” Jackson said, “Black History Month just means a time of basically Black people coming together to unite. You don’t see a lot of that. It’s nice to have events like this where you can come and look around and there’s people all coming together, whether to grab a plate, to talk or to network. It’s just a time for unity.”

Jordan Estes, a junior majoring in criminal justice, looks forward to Black History Month as a great time to celebrate the accomplishments of the Black community.

“It’s just about celebrating our people for recovering from oppression and congratulating other Black people on their achievements,” she said. “Black History Month lets us just come together and feel proud among each other and motivate each other to move forward and achieve greater things.”

David Yeom, who is Korean and a senior majoring in biology, believes Black History Month provides a platform for expression and potential change.

“Black history,” he said, “is a collective voice that’s been carried out for at least the past 100 years where African Americans, regardless of their class or family status, can try to voice their own hurt and opinions from what they’ve experienced in order to create a more equal and fulfilling society, regardless of race, in America.”

Jeromia Riley, a graduate student from Jamaica studying clinical mental health counseling, feels fortified by Black History Month.

“Black History Month means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s paved the way for people like me, being a Black man in America. I learned about the past history. I know the meaning and purpose of why I’m here, and it actually set the stage for me to be a Black man and feel comfortable in my skin and feel empowered.”

 

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Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens
Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.