The month of February, though acknowledged for Valentine’s Day and the unpredicted abilities of mother nature, reflects the honor and spirit of culture through Black History Month. Celebrating achievements and recognizing roles of black Americans, February is culturally developing and socially stimulating.
As Black History Month continually provides insight and understanding, it has become a very vocal time for learning and exploring cultural experiences and identities. Mike Thigpen, director of the Cultural Resource Center, claims that because of Black History Month, “[he] is able to know [he] has been a part of a great heritage of people.”
The importance of expanding one’s knowledge is often overlooked. Moments arise that set the stage to open doors in the context of our society. Through any cultural experience, appreciation of the background leads to a society that learns how to be open in order to explore, revisiting subjects that need to be reflected upon in order to revitalize a point of view.
“We have a tendency, as people, not to navigate to things that don’t directly affect us,” Thigpen said. As a society that tends to sit back and wait for gratification to find us, we typically hope that someone else will ask and reference the difficult questions and subjects.
Because of this, it is welcoming to Thigpen and others that Black History Month exists and breaks boundaries, educating those who otherwise may never be influenced in any such way.
“In regards to the fact that we are a global people, we are all connected and it is good to reflect on those ideas,” Thigpen says. “It has great value in the context of our community anytime we can celebrate anybody’s culture. Those celebrations are very key and important.”
As cultural stimulation plays a large role on AU’s campus, there are many activities that students are welcome to participate in to celebrate Black History Month. The Black Student Association is putting on movie nights on Tuesdays, featuring some films that are connected to African American culture and heritage.
Feb. 13-17 is considered a spirit week, in which each day relates to something within the culture, making a connection on campus.
“The leaders of this association are very sensitive to the AU environment and are therefore extending the invitation to participate to the experience,” says Thigpen.
The theme for this year’s Black History Month is love: love God, love yourself, love others. “Love is one thread that runs through all humanity and culture,” says Thigpen. The culture and history developments throughout the spirit week tie into campus and its involvement, rolling into Heritage Week.
As campus and community is shaped by the existence of things surrounding, there are many ways that AU is being formed and unified through awareness and celebration, especially within Black History Month. “Silence is a horrible thing,” says Thigpen. “It could be beautiful, but often we are invited into silence and don’t hear anything.”
As AU’s campus is being vocal and asking genuine questions and wrestling with emotions that people don’t understand, there is a unique factor within the community.
“To be in a safe place to ask those questions and develop into someone to go into the world with a better understanding of people is wonderful,” Thigpen states.
Everybody has a story. In order to grow, one has to be willing to really listen to that story and ask questions in order to make a change. “Most people want instant change,” says Thigpen. “If people take advantage of their time and really listen, they will grow and have so many opportunities.”