How Kean students can remember and celebrate Black History Month
By Johanna Ekladous | Published Feb. 8, 2017
Dr. James Conyers, director of Africana Studies at Kean University, shares how we can remember and celebrate Black History Month.
With the Trump administration now in power and the Black Lives Matter movement gaining momentum, Dr. Conyers expressed the importance of understanding that it does not change how we are to celebrate and remember African history in America.
When speaking about civil rights, what is the difference between black lives matter today and civil rights in the 1960s, 50s, the 40s? According to Dr. Conyers, there is none. It is a continuous historical struggle.
“I don’t look at the black lives struggle issue or even the Trump administration as anything new or different, the struggle continues for us,” Dr. Conyers said.“The struggle for liberation, African freedom, that’s the same struggle no matter who’s in power.”
In order to understand where we are going we need to understand where we came from, Dr. Conyers said. He referred to the National Geographic Genographic project, which tests DNA to determine gene origin and has proven that we are all of African descent.
In a National Geographic article titled, All Africans Under the Skin, Dr. Spencer Wells, Genographic Project lead scientist, is quoted as saying,
“You and I, in fact everyone all over the world, we’re literally African under the skin; brothers and sisters separated by a mere two thousand generations. Old-fashioned concepts of race are not only socially divisive, but scientifically wrong.”
During this time of the year, Dr. Conyers said to remember your roots and help celebrate how far Africans have come and help be a part of how far they can go.
This year the focus for Black History Month, or African History Month as it is known within the Africana Studies Department, will be “African American in the Criminal Justice System.” There are systems in place that do not help advance, mainly but not only, the African people.
“The nature of our history continues, no matter, we are still dealing with historical police brutality, we’re still dealing with the criminal justice system, whether it was Obama or Trump or anybody else.” Dr. Conyers said “We’re still dealing with all the very same problems that are structural with in the system in and of itself.”
In the system, racism, has become so socially embedded that it is normal. Dr. Conyers said most people don’t even realize what’s going on because of how normal it is.
Kean University and the Africana Studies Department will be hosting a variety of events on campus in which educational opportunities are offered.
Dr. Conyers stated that it is important to not only celebrate and remember Black History Month in February but all year round.
“During Black History month i.e. African History month, we have a series of programs that go on, however, for people like myself and others, we celebrate our history every day. And how do we do that? We celebrate it by how we live, and how we carry ourselves and how we comport ourselves with others of our own kind and other people who are not of our own kind.”
Kean University and the Africana Studies Department welcomes all in celebrating our African History this month and everyday.