Black History Month concluded at the end of February, and throughout the month there were a number of events held in order to celebrate it. The events held and the initiatives taken in order to commemorate the month were largely by student-run organizations. At the beginning of Black History Month, there was a student spotlight on the Light Lounge television that highlighted Black students and their achievements. Along with the spotlight, there was a timeline hung up in the Light Lounge as well, that displayed Muhlenberg’s history with diversity and inclusion.
The timeline is titled “Toward Diversity: Chapters in Black History at Muhlenberg.” This is a part of an initiative named the Muhlenberg Memories Project (MMP) which examines Muhlenberg’s early efforts into diversifying the College. The MMP website began in the spring of 2021 by two students, Hailey Petrus ‘23 and Samantha Brenner ‘21. The MMP has collected oral accounts from students, faculty and alumni while noting that it is an ongoing project. MMP is still acquiring more responses, insight and accounts from members of the Muhlenberg community, in order to highlight the many stories and experiences of students and faculty of color. The timeline by the MMP displayed in the Light Lounge is a look into Muhlenberg’s history with diversity while also amplifying the experiences of Black students and faculty throughout Muhlenberg history.
“Black success and excellence doesn’t stop there, so why should we?”Ibrahim Sidibeh ’25
Along with the timeline and the student spotlight, there were different events and gatherings hosted in order to celebrate Black History Month. Toward the beginning of the month, there was a Black love event hosted by the Men of Color Network, Queer and Trans People of Color Collective (QTPOCC) and Black Students Association (BSA). The Black love event was a conversation exclusive to Black students where they were able to speak about Black love and how it can be expressed and highlighted on campus.
Saskia Butler ‘23 voiced “My favorite event celebrating was our Black love conversation. It felt great seeing so many Black students come out and talk with each other about how we can better support each other on campus.”
There were events sprinkled throughout the month, such as a BSA sponsored “Paint and Sip” that was open to all students, a movie screening of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” at the Diane Williams Collegiate House, and a karaoke night hosted by BSA and Muhlenberg Activities Council (MAC).
The events were based around a central theme for the month, which were Black activism and Black joy. Ibrahim Sidibeh ‘25, Vice President of BSA said, “Black joy and Black activism was an essential theme because we need to start associating Blackness with success and joy rather than the stigmatization of struggle and trauma. The world succeeds when Black people do. We need to start redefining what it means to be Black, and the celebrations through Black History Month we held definitely began doing that.”
Toward the end of the month, there was a fashion show to highlight the different styles embodied by the Black community, along with displaying clothing pieces made by students as well. Sidibeh stated “My favorite event this month was definitely the fashion show. Watching people I have never seen come on stage and present themselves and shine like they were was so warm and encouraging. Everyone had such a good time just breaking out of their shell and embracing themselves, including me.”
“The World Succeeds when Black people do. we need to start redefining what it means to be black.”Ibrahim Sidibeh ’25
Butler said, “I really hope we can continue putting on the fashion show in celebration. It went so well, and it was so great to see everyone expressing themselves through clothing.”
When reflecting on how Muhlenberg celebrated Black History Month, and what more can be done, and what celebrations can happen in the future, Butler expressed, “I hope that Muhlenberg can work with the music department to celebrate Black musicians and artists. I think it would be a great way to reflect on the contributions made to the music world and many students would be interested.”
Sidibeh shared, “I can only encourage Muhlenberg to keep celebrating and uplifting Black students and faculty beyond February. Black success and excellence doesn’t stop there, so why should we?”