The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TR students debate Black History Month’s purpose

By Andrea Conley/tr news editor

Faculty, administrators, students and even a county judge enjoyed a special lunch and a live jazz/R&B performance at Trinity River Campus’ Black History Month celebration Feb. 9.

Amid the din of laughter, conversation and the musical stylings of local band Common Ground were a number of strong opinions on whether Black History Month is still relevant in 2010, when the leader of the free world is a black man.

Longtime Tarrant County Judge Louis Sturns believes the observance should be continued and even increased.

“I think there’s still a need for Black History Month,” Sturns said. “First of all, black history is really America’s history. If you look throughout America’s history, blacks have played a significant part in the history of this country from the very beginning, starting with Crispus Attucks, one of the first people killed in the Boston Massacre of 1770, right on through to all the various wars we’ve fought in.”

Sturns, who frequently eats lunch at the Riverfront Café, does not believe a once-a-year observance is adequate.

“Actually, I think it should be taught throughout the year because I think it’s almost a tragedy that people who are not black are not educated on the contributions that blacks have made to our society, and so I definitely think it’s still relevant, even in the age we now live in with an African-American president,” he said.

Not so, said 19-year-old William Barlen, a transfer student from UTA, now in his first semester at TCC.

“I’ve always thought that Black History Month was never needed,” he said. “I thought that black history should be incorporated into all history and that it shouldn’t be any different. The fact that we have a black president doesn’t really have anything to do with anything at all. I think he was the best man for the job, and he got elected, black, white or otherwise.”

Barlen, a political science major, said black history should not be taken out of context from this country’s history in general.

A racially diverse crowd of about 200 gathered at the Riverfront Café to eat soul food and watch the performance, and many danced and sang along as the band cranked out a succession of Motown hits, jazz standards and James Brown-esque funk. Others seemed to be lost in quiet reflection.

The celebration of black history is a misnomer, said Dr. Robert Munoz, vice president of continuing education services.

“When you look at the struggle of African-Americans in our country and all they have had to put up with, but yet they are resilient … from just the different ways in slave days they came up with to prosper,” he said.

Munoz said many of today’s culinary treats known as soul food were born of necessity as well as the slaves’ creativity and lack of better cuts of meat or other foods.

He also mentioned cultural role models, including the legendary college coaches Nolan Richardson and Eddie Robinson, and the American art forms of jazz and gospel as iconic contributions by blacks.

“I think a celebration to me just brings back why I embrace that culture, and not only mine,” he said. “But also, how this all helps shape us into who we are as Americans – if you take the time to notice.”

Kristin Vinson-Wright, Black History Month committee member and TR’s coordinator of career and employment services, said the observation is still relevant and should be expanded.

“Even though we have an African-American president, we still have a history and a story to tell, so I think it needs to continue, and it needs to evolve to an everyday topic for our students,” she said. “Everyone’s race, religion and history needs to be an everyday topic for our students.”

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