The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Students help organize Black History Month

 

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Many events are planned throughout Black History Month at SMU. (Courtesy of Faith Miller)

When Faith Miller came to SMU, she didn’t really have any friends on campus. So she joined the Association of Black Students.

Three years later and now a senior, Miller is the vice president of Association of Black Students. Her involvements in ABS not only helped her make friends on campus, but also grow as a leader.

“Being involved is important not only in the black community, but also in the SMU community,” Miller said. “Hopefully I am impacting, someone’s life, someone with a similar SMU experience. Especially first-years.”

For both Miller and ABS, Black History Month is chance where all students can get involved and educated at the various activities that take place on campus from Saturday through March 1.

“All of SMU is invited,” Miller said. “We want an array of people participating.”

This year’s Black History Month features ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, a history of song, a game, discussions and a ball.

Students Devean Owens and D’Marquis Allen are the co-chairs of this month’s events.

Owens, an advertising and public relations & strategic communications major, began chairing the event three years ago when Steven Johnson, Coordinator in OMSA, challenged her to revamp Black History Month and “make it 10 times better.”

So she started small. They brought in poet, author and activist Nikki Giovanni as their opening speaker, set up the Black Inventors and Inventions Museum in the Hughes-Trigg Commons and held the Inaugural Black Excellence Ball.

“We did it,” Owens said. “We knew the next year we could do it bigger and better.”

The next year, Hill Harper, CSI: New York actor and author, was ABS’ Black History Month keynote speaker.

This year they hope to have an even bigger impact and larger audience, especially with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

“I plan on attending as many events as possible, but I most look forward to their kick off of Black History Month program because of the unity that I see among everyone,” said sophomore Tien Dang, a creative advertising major and a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps, who attended the Unity Walk Jan 23.

Owens’s one dream has always been to bring Soledad O’Brien or Melissa Harris Perry to SMU’s Black History Months, though both are out of their price range at the moment.

“I hope that one day this happens and I will definitely be front and center,” Owens said.

Miller, a communications and public relations major, helps make sure that there is a Black History Month and people on campus understand the cultures.

“I believe Black History Month is vital at SMU,” Owens said. “It gives us a chance to educate the greater SMU community on our culture and heritage.”

Owens, passionate about ABS, Black History Month, OMSA and diversity, has served as Public Relations Chair, President and Black History Month Chair in ABS.

“Black History Month will be the one thing I miss most when I graduate,” Owens said. “To start something from inception and see it through is an amazing feeling.”

ABS has four subgroups: African Student Association for students originally from Africa, Sisters Supporting Sisters, gospel group Voices of Inspiration and Black Men Emerging. Tyrone Davis is the president of ABS.

ABS is underneath the Mulitcultural student organization umbrella, directed by Creston Lynch. He is responsible for the development of diversity support and inclusion.

Miller believes this month is not only meant to uplift each other but also to educate people.

“This is an opportunity to see how far black people have come but also an opportunity to see how far we have to go,” Miller said.

“It’s great to see the resilience and progress of a group of people that for so long was told that they would never amount to anything,” Dang said.

The third annual Black Excellence Ball will be in the Hughes Trigg ballroom March 1. Both Owen and Miller are looking forward to the Black Excellence Ball.

“I think the best part of the Black Excellence Ball is the fellowship we have with one another in a more formal setting. It gives us an opportunity to get dressed up, celebrate our culture and have a great time,” Owens said. “I love to sit back and watch everyone interact with on another. It feels great to be able to provide that atmosphere for my community.”

Food, fun and fellowship is what Miller is looking forward to.

The group decided on black-tie optional this year because they partnered with the Black Alumni of SMU.

“ They may want to break out a tuxedo or long evening gown for the event,” Owens said. “It gives everyone an option on each spectrum.”

Last year, Jerry LeVias, former SMU and NFL wide receiver, was the keynote speaker at the ball where he spoke about the struggles black students faced at SMU when he went to SMU in the 1960s.

The things that black students went through then is nothing compared to what we go through now,” Owens said. “However, knowing these things should empower us to continue the fight for diversity and inclusion as well as take advantage of all the opportunities presented to us.”

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