Students reflect on successes of Black History Month

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 2:40 a.m.
More than 200 people packed the Rion Ballroom on Wednesday night when DJ Gui started his set. They'd been waiting for more than half an hour and they were getting restless.
DJ Gui flipped through his CDs, put on his ear phones, and Lyfe Jennings' "Made up My Mind" started playing on the stereo. The show - the last official event of Black History Month celebrations at the University of Florida - was about to start.
Lisa Clark, executive director of BHM 2007, said the show had been so popular when it was first performed early in the month, that she thought it would be a fitting close to a monthlong series of events that also included a speech by Martin Luther King III and a performance by Damian Marley.
"I'm a big advocate of 'with knowledge comes understanding,' " she said. "That's why it's important to put together this event every year. It's not just Black History Month. I support everyone's month. It's about understanding each other's cultures."
Clark started the evening by handing out recognition awards to all 57 members of the BHM executive board, who, she said in her speech, helped her handle a $50,000 budget.
Fara Humes, a telecommunications junior who was responsible for coordinating speakers, said that this year the focus had been on education and learning. With an event like the presentation given by the actors on the FX show "Black. White," she said that people were able to ask questions that they normally would be afraid to ask.
"My family has always celebrated Black History Month. For me it's not just an extracurricular, it's a necessity I think."
Billy Holcombe, the president of the Black Student Union, said that some programs should be commended for tackling issues that are still taboo for the black community, including the "What's Love Got to do With It" discussions between women and men.
"It's not so much about celebrating, Black History Month is about paying homage to the accomplishments that African Americans have made over history," he said.
He also added that this year may have been an improvement on last year's event in terms of attendance. More than 4,800 people attended the 18th Annual Florida Invitational Step Show.
Last night, despite student elections polls closing at 8 p.m., more than 200 people showed up for the awards ceremony. Some were friends and family of the people on the executive board, who were all wearing matching kelly green tees. But the majority of those present were students who had come to see an encore presentation of Kenny Mulfort's play "A Walk in My Shoes."
Humes said that the show, a love story about April who falls in love with Jackson, is popular with students because it's about relationships and the dynamics of men and women in the black community.
DJ Gui, who had put together a collection of songs that included Akon and TLC, in addition to Lyfe Jennings, said that he had gotten involved because he thinks that it's important for students to get together and talk through tough issues and celebrate their heritage.
"It's a way for us to remember the sacrifices it took for us to get here."

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