Black Student Success introduces new Black Heritage Month events

Black Student Success has coordinated many new events for Black Heritage Month that serve to educate and bring awareness to the student body. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

USF is celebrating Black Heritage Month by coordinating new events that will highlight Black culture, music and education on Black life.

Pilar Walker, coordinator for Black Student Success, said her vision is to connect with students in a way that makes them feel seen and appreciated while also educating the general USF student body about the history and culture of Black Heritage Month.

“You have to be open-minded and also allow people to come into this space to learn, it doesn’t mean they come into this space to take up space, but coming to learn how we live in this country, in this world, from our perspective,” she said.

There will be a series of events scheduled every Friday during Black Heritage Month called “Set Friday,” according to Walker. These three events will be held in the Embassy Plaza from noon to 2 p.m.

This idea drew inspiration from Florida A&M University, a historically Black college, where students can come together and celebrate Black culture, Walker said. There will be Black-owned food vendors, small businesses and music playing all throughout each of the Set Friday events, according to Walker.

A total of three different themes will take place during each Set Friday event. The first event is scheduled on Friday and will be following the theme of a block party, which will serve as the opening statement of celebrating Black culture.

Paying homage to those who took part in the African American Revolution, the next Set Friday, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised,” will take place on Feb. 17. The final Set Friday will be hosted on Feb. 24 with a “Caribbean Carnival” theme to celebrate Caribbean culture with traditional foods, music and other vendors.

The second event, The Diaspora, will take place on Feb. 23 from 6-8 p.m. at MSC 3707. Its purpose will be to take a dive into the stereotypes that African Americans, Caribbeans and Africans have amongst each other, according to Walker.

“Yes, we’re from different places, we have different cultures, but at the end of the day, we look just like family,” Walker said.

Afro-Latinidad will be held on Feb. 9 from 6-8 p.m. at MSC 3300 to bring Black culture and the LatinX community together. Walker said she hopes attendees will be able to learn about each other’s cultures and the history that they share together.

In addition to the plethora of events that will be provided during Black Heritage Month, there are various guests who will be featured as well.

Derick Armstrong, a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual, will serve as a moderator for the Black Wall Street event, which will discuss healthy financial practices and investing money. This event is planned to take place at MSC 4200 on Thursday from 6-8 p.m.

Assistant Director of USF Fitness Asia Wright, WFTV journalist Christy Turner and licensed mental health counselor Jennifer Geneus will be panelists for the Health Wealth and Moment Myself event, according to Walker. During the talk, speakers are planned to discuss positive strategies centered around the health of Black women both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This event will happen on Monday from 6-8 p.m. at MSC 4200.

President of the Switzer Hych Business Group Daryl Hych will be a guest speaker for the Black Gala, a formal event that will focus on discussing how Black students look toward the future as a community. The Gala will occur on Feb. 23 from 6-8 p.m. in the MSC Ballroom.

When talking with students about the events being coordinated, there was particularly a lot of excitement for a poetry event that will be happening called the Melanated Melodies, according to Walker. It will be an open mic poetry event where special guests will be performing. It will occur in MSC Ballroom A & B on Feb. 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Walker said the value of Black Heritage Month is to never let history die out. There’s not only a need to teach people within the Black community, but to teach people outside of it as well, she said.

“We know MLK, we know Rosa Parks, we know all those figures who paved the way for us to be here today,” she said.

For USF students, Walker said the main idea is to understand the culture, the togetherness and even Black students and their perspectives on their own lives – on or off campus.

While celebrating Black culture is the obvious purpose of Black Heritage Month and these events, the bigger picture is to create bonds and a sense of community on campus, according to Walker.

“You know, one bad apple doesn’t represent everybody in the bunch. If we are willing to learn and if we can build relationships with people who don’t even look like us, then I think we’ve done our job,” she said.