Black History Month at Asbury
February 21, 2020
February marks the nationwide celebration of Black History Month and an intentional recognition of the central role that African Americans have held in the story of the United States. While many expect to learn about and remember the unsung heroes who shaped our society, the students at Asbury University take it one step further and also delve into the culture and experiences of our current African American community.
For the fifth year running, the Black Student Alliance has hosted a series of events allowing all students to explore different elements of a culture about which they may know very little. The term “sonder” is often used to refer to the realization that the people passing you in the street live lives as complex and meaningful as your own, and that is the aim of these annual events.
Esther Jadhav, Asbury’s Associate Vice President of Intercultural Affairs, supports the BSA’s goals for the month’s activities. “To have these events that highlight the lived experiences of a particular ethnic community is so critical and so important,” she says. “I think, as a community, we have an opportunity of getting to see and hear the stories of the lived experiences of our black students. It’s available to us in other places… but on our campus, these events are just a small sampling of what is happening in the larger community.”
The BSA has been hosting events in honor of Black History Month for half of its existence on campus, and this year continues that tradition. February 7 saw a campus screening of When They See Us, a miniseries digging into the story and lives of five black men falsely accused of assault in 1989, followed by a discussion exploring the reality of discrimination in modern culture. An annual game show night took place on February 11 as a Professors vs. Students edition of Family Feud. In Chapel the next morning, African and African American students discussed their personal experiences in a panel setting, and a Black Expo was held on February 19, giving students the chance to learn more about black culture and cuisine.
The events for Black History Month 2020 will wrap up on February 28 with a special celebration in honor of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Black Student Alliance at Asbury.
African American culture informs nearly every aspect of United States history, art and science. It is complex and meaningful, even though many on campus may not be aware of it. The goal of Black History Month at Asbury is to allow everyone to explore it in its past and present forms, and to help build connections between all the ethnicities represented in our community as a way of strengthening our bonds with each other as Christians united in faith.
“We need to be able to understand these experiences of these populations that are on our campus,” says Jadhav. “Our student body is made up of Caucasian students, black students, Latino students, Asian-American students, international students, missionary kids, biracial and multicultural students. We need to understand the lived experiences of all of these diverse groups.”
Throughout the month of February and beyond, the Black Student Alliance is proud to share their perspective as one of the diverse lived experiences at Asbury.