Opening Dinner Kicks off Black History Month

The Multicultural Center at Manhattan College strives to embrace and celebrate every culture, ethnicity, sexuality, religion and identity. On Feb. 5, the center hosted The Black History Month Opening Dinner to commence a month of events related to black culture.

To start off the dinner, Hayden Greene, Director of the Multicultural Affairs and Coordinator of the Multicultural Center, introduced Deputy Bronx Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden to share her remarks on the significance of Black History Month.

“Black history includes more than… Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey,” McFadden said. “It includes when you woke up today when you brushed and combed your hair, we thank African-American inventors Walter Sampson and Lily Newman.”

She continued, naming famous black inventors throughout history who have drastically impacted the way people live in today’s society then encourages the college community to do the same.

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Performances varied from spoken word poetry to Western African dance routines. HAYDEN GREENE/COURTESY

“You too are creating black history today. Let’s continue to invent, create and improve lives in every way we can,” said McFadden.

Following the remarks of McFadden, actor and spoken word artist David Roberts, who goes by his artist name “D-Black”, performed. To express his love for culture and share what he learns and enjoys, Roberts performs poetry that relate back to cultures. He shared several of his poems which included topics such as the prison industrial complex, and how this complex is exemplified throughout different aspects of society such as the education system.

The prison industrial complex refers to the rapid influx of the United States inmate population, which has become more apparent in recent years. He explained how the complex has become an ever-growing issue in society that directly impacts one’s everyday life.

Roberts’ first performance showed an example of how the education system in America relates back to the complex by stating that “[the student’s] school should be an assembly line that prepares his for his future, needing metal detectors, bag checks and security guard that act like wardens.”

His performances not only showed the pride people should have when celebrating black history month, but also addressed issues that directly impact society. Students and faculty were not only introduced to these pressing issues but were also exposed to other aspects of black culture such as dance and music.

As well as being served a dinner tied to black culture, the community had the opportunity to experience the artistic side of the culture through the performances put on by the Brooklyn Drumline and a Western African dance group.

Greene encourages all students, no matter their background, to participate and to “take the time to delve in, a little bit, and try to figure out why certain people have so much pride in a particular thing.”

Greene believes that when people begin to learn more about other cultures they realize that there are more parallels between cultures and backgrounds than some may believe.

“When we start to draw parallels to what we’re seeing as to what we’ve experienced that’s when we start to live in a better world… When you figure that out you realize ‘why are we fighting?’ It’s like fighting people that are just exactly like us,” he said.

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Students and Faculty gathered together for the dinner which kicked off Black History Month at the college. SYDNEY KUKODA/COURTESY

The Multicultural Center takes pride in being a place for all people and Greene emphasizes that to learn more about a culture, students don’t have to wait until events are being held or until the culture is being celebrated throughout the course of a month. However, for the month of February, there will be multiple events hosted by the center to celebrate Black History Month.

Throughout the month, there will be several events across campus that are open to all such as a program titled Herstory: Black Women in the Arts, which is a combination of both Black History Month and Women’s History Month. This event will occur towards the end of the month in Kelly Commons on Feb. 26. Other events, such as film screenings and poetry nights, will be tied to the celebration of black culture throughout the month.

Other Black History Month events can be found on the instagram page for Manhattan College’s Multicultural Center.