In honor of Black History Month, students across campus are working in tandem to properly celebrate and inform the Muhlenberg community. One of these projects is a series of posters spread across campus with information and pictures of influential black activists, artists and athletes of the world. The curator of these posters, Steven Smith ‘19, strives to further engage and inform the community as a whole.
Originally to bring awareness to campus, the project started “trying to incorporate food that is apart of black culture into the dining hall,” Smith continued, “but those conversations eventually branched out to having different events on campus for black culture.”
One of the branches from the project is the creation of the multiple posters placed around campus. Each poster features notable people of African descent that did incredible things for the black community. The posters were created as a way to celebrate achievements centered around a positive black image.
“By black, I mean everyone under Africa’s diaspora; Africans to Caribbean people to Afro-latinos to African Americans in the U.S. Just everybody,” said Smith.
The posters are meant to highlight hard work and other positives, primarily due to the current representation featured on the media which does not always shine a positive light on black people. The posters are another way to help oppose that negative perception.
There are 25 posters in total. There are 10 posters in Seegers, 10 posters in the CA, and five in the Life Sports Center. Each figure on the posters is placed in an area that they had a career in; Athletes are in the Life Sports Center, artists of various mediums in the CA, and political activists in Seegers. The posters are placed in areas that can catch your eye very easily, allowing for awareness to spread across campus.
Posters are not the only thing that is helping this campus gain a better understanding of black culture. Food is also an important medium of understanding.
“During the weeks of February, the food in the Woods Dining Commons would be traveling through African Diaspora by food,” explained Smith. “We would see a lot of different foods that are a part of African culture. We would probably start off with food seen in West Africa to food in South America to food in the Islands. Even some food from West India. We might even see some Haitian food too.”
Thanks to Sodexo Food Services, the people at Muhlenberg would be able to taste some of the food that originated from different countries. Students, faculty, and staff would be able to partake in events in the dining hall that would allow participants to make different dishes from different countries.
Another point of creating this project is to inform people on campus that we exist and there are positive attributes that we have done. Everyone should be made aware of that.
“This month there will be a workshop on how to make Jamaican beef patties similarly to how the Asian Student Association had a dumpling making workshop,” said Smith.
Workshops like this are important to establish awareness across campus, further encouraging participants to be more involved in learning about Black History Month as opposed to simply observing.
“Another point of creating this project is to inform people on campus that we [black people] exist and there are positive attributes that we have done. Everyone should be made aware of that,” said Smith.
It is important to have workshops like these because it helps students feel like they are not alone on campus and that there are other students who come from similar backgrounds and cultures.
Smith talked about how and why he came to the idea for creating this Black History Month project. “I just have a strong passion to help people, black people due to the context to how black people are treated in America and the oppressive system that they are trapped. I also wanted to inform people on campus since it is a predominantly white institution, some student faculty or staff may not be aware of the different aspects of black culture.”
By creating this project and having multiple workshops, Smith is helping to increase the awareness on Muhlenberg Campus because not only are the events fun to be involved with, but they hold information that is beneficial to anyone who partakes in it.