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Blacks celebrate, share culture

Opening ceremonies on Feb. 2 marked the beginning of Black Awareness Month [BAM] on campus, a time when students of black culture can come together to honor their heritage. The United Black Students association [UBS] works throughout the year to plan these month-long events, intended to raise awareness and appreciation of the contributions that black Americans have made, not just in the country, but on campus as well.

“Black Awareness Month. . . allows people of all races to see African Americans in a brighter light,” Marcus Washington, freshman, said. “Through the events thrown on campus by UBS, UM students get a chance to celebrate our culture with us.”

UBS is an organization in which black students can come together to discuss issues and do something for UM. However, they are also enriching their own cultural knowledge.

“There are a lot of things that we don’t actually know. . . and unless it’s passed down from family to family, a lot of things are forgotten,” Jendayi Muntu, BAM African Storytelling Chair and member of the BAM Opening Ceremonies Committee, said. “I think [Black History Month] benefits us by informing us and [keeping] alive the things we do know, making sure [they are] not misinterpreted.”

Although many participate in UBS, a dedicated group of 35 members plans the events for each day of BAM.

“The events that we’re having are an example of how we live, just put on display basically, so that people who are not familiar with our culture can understand what we like, the things that we like to do, things that we enjoy, [and] things we don’t like,” Christopher Lomax, junior, said.

“A lot of people have misconceptions about African American culture. It’s not necessarily prejudice, but misconceptions.” Jason Starr, junior, said. “Black Awareness Month enlightens people, [giving them] a whole new aspect of black culture.”

Events for BAM run through the Feb. 29, with closing ceremonies taking place on the UC Patio. Events include a Black Film Series in the residential colleges, African storytelling, a fashion show and a discussion forum.

“I hope that Black Awareness Month serves as a catalyst for an information type experience where people understand really what African American, black people, are really about, what kind of contributions they’ve made to society as a whole. . . and what we might be able to do in the future,” said Lomax.

For more information about Black Awareness Month, contact the UBS at 305-284-2583.

Christine Dominguez can be contacted at c.dominguez3@umiami.edu.

February 13, 2004

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