Parkland College commemorates Black History Month
Parkland College serves a diverse community and houses a student body made up of people from many different ethnical backgrounds. February is Black History Month and there will be various things taking place on campus to commemorate the event. There is a Black History Month Planning Committee that is responsible for planning the annual celebration and they have many events scheduled throughout the month.
A few notable events that are scheduled include “Does Race Matter?” which takes place from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in Room D116 on Thursday, Feb. 4. “Black Male/ Female Relationship Discussion,” which will be held on two separate occasions. Part one of the discussion will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 10 and part two will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Both events will take place in Room U140 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. “Police and the Community” is another discussion that will be taking place in Room D224 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15. There will be many other events in addition to these discussions, including a free evening of music and dancing featuring DJ Antwon George in the student union from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11. There will also be a Soul Food Luncheon in the cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Christopher Wilson is the administrative assistant to the dean of students and dean of enrollment management as well as the co-chair for the Black History Month planning committee. He explained that the committee wanted to take the advantage of the opportunity of honoring black history to address some of the more weighty topics associated with race relations in an open and direct way. He also explained why he thinks an open discussion about these issues is important.
“I think you can just tell by the current climate that we’re in socially and politically that there’s a lot of tension in the community and not a lot of effort going into understanding different points of view,” Wilson said. “I think that dialog, communication and learning about history is extremely important for people to understand where other people come from. If there were more empathy and sympathy toward what other people go through, I think there would be a lot less hostility.”
Donna Tanner-Harold is a counselor as well as the director of the Black Student Success Project at Parkland. Tanner-Harold also serves as the Co-Chair of the Black History Month Planning Committee. She agrees that there should be more open discussions about race at the college.
“It’s an event for people to get together and talk about things that are a little bit uncomfortable,” Tanner-Harold said. “Talking about race is uncomfortable. Race and police and the community, as we’ve seen in the news and all the events that have happened, it’s hard and it’s tragic and lives are being lost. People are hurt and they need to talk about it.”
In addition to in depth discussions, a dance and a day of authentic African American cuisine, there will also be various displays being showcased throughout campus. One such display will be located in room D179. The display is put together by the Museum and Education Department Director at the Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet, Ill., Barbara Oehlschlaeger-Garvey.
“I enjoy it,” Oehlschlaeger-Garvey said. “I enjoy telling the story of anybody’s history. It’s particularly nice to delve into the history that Doris Hoskins put together because I knew Doris quite well and she was just so dedicated to the task of collecting everyone’s history.”
The display always pertains to a certain topic and this year’s theme is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.”
Students interested in learning more about the events planned throughout the month can find more information by visiting the student portal at My.Parkland. There will also be signage displayed around campus promoting the events.