Black History Month Recap
The Multicultural Center is proud to promote a culture of care for all students by honoring and participating in several Heritage Month celebrations throughout the year, including Hispanic Heritage Month, LGBT History Month, American Indian Heritage Month, Women’s History Month and Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. In celebration of Black History Month, which takes place in February, the Multicultural Center hosted and supported several programs, including the Friends of Black Student Achievement, the Multicultural Center reception and Black History Live!, a visual time capsule of the Black Panther and Black Power movements. These programs and other events included discussions about the black community and experience, and the combination of art, culture and the human experience as a whole.
As the cornerstone of the celebration of Black History Month, Georgia State students were offered the chance to tour the Center for Civil and Human Rights in the heart of Atlanta. While a few attendees arrived at the center via MARTA or the Atlanta streetcar, most students, faculty and staff who attended met in the Multicultural Center and walked to the center, which is less than a mile from the middle of campus. Twenty-six attendees enjoyed a meaningful, educational experience, acquiring new knowledge about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the current state of inequality in America. One student mentioned that through his experience at the center, he learned that he could “make other people’s injustice my personal problem,” reflecting the application of multicultural issues to broader societal concerns.
A highlight of the tour was an exhibit coordinated by Georgia State student, Ameer Muhammad, in collaboration with other students and faculty from Georgia State University and Morehouse University. Ameer is a graduate student, currently finishing his Master’s program in religious studies with a concentration in nonprofit management. This exhibit portrays an often overlooked part of the history of the Civil Rights Movement – the involvement and contributions of African American Muslims in 1960-80. The exhibit features three banners; two kiosks portraying oral histories, artifacts and written documents; and a large screen showing Ameer’s 30-minute documentary film. Students who experienced Ameer’s exhibit learned that not all civil rights activists were widely known, though they may have had a wide reaching impact. One of Ameer’s goals in coordinating the exhibit was to emphasize the little known collaborative efforts between peaceful protestors and African American Muslims such as Malcolm X, and he did so brilliantly. Dr. Sherman Jackson, a professor of religion and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California lauded the exhibit for revealing these truths about America’s history.
For a long time, those who have had the power to write history have had the power to write some people into that history and other people out of that history. And based on that writing, people come up with different perceptions of themselves. And right now, in this moment in which we happen to be living…it’s important for Americans – especially black Americans but not exclusively black Americans – to get a real sense of who they are.
~ Dr. Sherman Jackson
Through interacting with the exhibit, students’ perceptions of the Civil Rights Movement may be contradicted, challenging them to think critically not only about the Civil Rights Movement, but about the information they receive in their daily lives. By integrating their experience at the Center for Civil and Human Rights into other aspects of their lives, students can expand their sense of civic responsibility, both on and off campus.