BGSU students are leading the charge in promoting racial equality in the local community. Many student groups are wrapping up February’s observance of Black History Month while celebrating Black culture all year long.
Organizations like the Black Student Union, One Nation of People Against Racism and Black Rights, Activism, Visibility, and Equity are highlighting Black culture while continuing to push for racial equality in Bowling Green and beyond.
“There are so many things that we are discovering now that I had no clue happened,” BSU Secretary Madison Baltimore said. “It seems like there’s more available and more present information during Black History Month from major companies or resources.”
Donovan Gaffney, founder of ONPAR, grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where Black history was celebrated and taught year-round.
“Everything was like Black history all the time,” Gaffney said.
BRAVE founder Anthony King started his nonprofit organization following Black Lives Matter protests last summer. King sees Black History Month as a way to honor the lives who built America.
“Having that month that celebrates Black people and Black culture, which is true American culture, is really important,” King said.
King recognizes the trauma in the Black community resulting from the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others. He said this Black History Month is a chance to respond to last summer’s racial tensions and protests over those deaths by creating a safe space to celebrate being Black.
“Having this month to really celebrate Black culture, I believe, relieves the mental tension that this country constantly presses on us on a day-to-day basis,” King said.
Outside of Black History Month, student organizations work to provide learning opportunities for students year-round. BSU’s mission statement is “to create cultural and political awareness amongst the Black and overall campus community through programming and initiatives that promote unity, leadership, and scholarship.”
Baltimore encourages students to get involved in clubs and organizations to learn more about other cultures.
“We’re all here to help other students learn more,” Baltimore said.
She also emphasized that Black History month is not just for Black people, and everyone should take the time to learn things that weren’t taught in their textbooks.
King encourages people to utilize BRAVE, BGSU and other organizations as resources to learn more about Black history. BRAVE’s newly released website includes resources for both Black and white people to learn more about Black culture and Black life.
“I think research for non-people of color is going to be a very important tool and tactic in being anti-racist,” King said.
Gaffney suggests various ways to get involved in Black and minority history year-round, including joining or visiting an organization with diverse people, attending the virtual Black Issues Conference on Feb. 25, or even going to the library and picking up a book. He believes that all students should take an ethnic studies course during their time at BGSU.
“There shouldn’t be any boundaries to where you can learn more about minority history,” Gaffney said.