Queen's University

Black History Month encourages discussion on campus


By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Every so often, Daniel Quainoo (Artsci’15) hears and reads that Black History Month isn’t necessary. While he doesn’t dismiss the idea, he said the month-long celebration in February still serves an important function.

[Zal Sissokos]Senegalese musician Zal Sissokho performed the kora -- a 21-string African harp -- during a recent Black History Month concert hosted by the Kingston African Caribbean Collective. The Queen's Black History Month committee has several events planned over the next two weeks.

“We do get some pushback, but I just say, ‘I wish it wasn’t necessary.’ For a long time black history has been lost or marginalized. I think for that reason Black History Month will continue for the foreseeable future.”

Mr. Quainoo is one of several members of this year’s Black History Month organizing committee, which includes representatives from the Queen’s Black Academic Society, Queen’s Coalition against Racist and Ethnic Discrimination, and the African and Caribbean Students’ Association at Queen’s. The organizing committee was struck last year in an effort to create cohesion and synergies amongst the different campus groups during Black History Month.

The organizing committee emphasizes inclusiveness for all of its activities and events during the month of February, according to Alannah Johnson (Artsci’14), a board member of the Queen’s Coalition against Racist and Ethnic Discrimination.

“We invite everyone to recognize and celebrate the diverse histories and achievements of individuals within the African and Caribbean diaspora,” she says. “We’re a community that welcomes all staff, faculty and students to join us in the conversation.”

Black History Month began with an opening ceremony on Feb. 3 with several speakers, including Judith Brown, President, Afro-Caribe Community Foundation of Kingston, and Wayne Myles, Director, Queen’s University International Centre.

“Judith talked a lot about representation and the importance of being represented in the Queen’s and Kingston communities,” says Ms. Johnson. “Wayne spoke about his experience in South Africa and there was a powerful tribute to Nelson Mandela. It was nice to remember Mandela; it’s what this month is all about.”

More activities are planned over the next several weeks, including a talk by Justice Hugh Fraser (Artsci’74) and a wrap-up celebration at the end of the month. Members of the organizing committee will also visit the Bath Institution on Feb. 26 to participate in the correctional facility’s Black History Month.

“We are going to bring to them some of the Queen’s Black History Month celebrations through videos and other resources. We are looking forward to interacting with them on a personal level,” said Mr. Quainoo. “I think this opportunity really shows the power and influence of the Black History Month organizing committee.”

Visit the Black History Month Facebook page for more details about upcoming events.

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Last updated at 4:26 pm EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
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