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How USF is celebrating Black Heritage Month

The Caribbean Cultural Exchange club tabled at Wednesday’s Black Heritage Month showcase at Bull Market. ORACLE PHOTO/JULIA SAAD

Black Heritage Month has arrived, and USF is celebrating until the end of February with events emphasizing the importance of Black culture, music and education on society.  

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) will host the celebration with more than double the events as last year, according to Pilar Walker, student programs coordinator for OMA. There are seven events planned this year, compared to three in 2023.

Walker said her goal is to create a sense of community for Black students and educate those wanting to learn more about Black culture.

 “Something I’m really hoping that [Black Heritage Month] does for those who don’t identify as Black is [to] make them more comfortable to come out and learn more about Black culture, to break down stereotypes that may exist,” Walker said.

There will be multiple events to educate students and commemorate the Black community’s contributions to society beginning Thursday. 

Black Wall Street: Thursday from 6-8 p.m. in MSC 4200

 Black Wall Street, hosted partly by the Black Leadership Network, is an event focused on financial advising. 

Focused on the history of a prosperous neighborhood called “Black Wall Street,” the event is planned to discuss making informed financial decisions, investing and building wealth, according to Walker.

Soul Fest: Monday, Feb. 5 from 12-2 p.m. in MSC Plaza

The Black Student Union (BSU) and OMA are combining efforts to host Soul Fest, a marketplace featuring local vendors, music and soul food catered from Mr. B’s Restaurant, Walker said. The event celebrates Black culture through a festive showcase where you can support local artists.

Urban Talk: Tuesday, Feb. 6 from 6-8 p.m. in MSC 3707

 Urban Talk, which the BSU and OMA also host, will feature a panel of students and faculty discussing significant issues within the Black community, such as race, politics and mental health. This discussion-based event is designed to foster meaningful conversations between students of all backgrounds. 

Melanated Melodies: Monday, Feb. 12 from 6-8 p.m. in MSC 3300, OMA Backspace

Melanated Melodies is an open mic event where students, faculty and staff can share poetry focused on black history, heritage and culture. Walker said the event was popular with students last year.

Afrobeats Jamz: Thursday, Feb. 15 from 12-2 p.m. in MSC Plaza

Afrobeats Jamz is a showcase of various black student organizations celebrating African culture. The event will feature music, African foods and the chance to learn about several traditions, according to Walker.

Caribbean Carnival: Monday, Feb. 19 from 12-2 p.m. in MSC Plaza

The Caribbean Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean culture. It will include traditional dances, music and food to honor Caribbean heritage, according to Walker.

QTBlack and Ballroom: Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6-8 p.m. in MSC Ballroom

QTBlack and Ballroom is an event highlighting the Black LGBTQ+ community through a panel of poets. The panel aims to bring awareness to issues within the community and will feature a poetry battle. Community Health, based in Ybor City, will be providing free take-home HIV tests, according to Walker. The event is limited to 250 spots, with 247 that can be registered for on Bullsconnect. 

The Black Gala: Thursday, Feb. 29 from 6-8 p.m. in MSC Ballroom

The Black Gala is a formal ball celebrating the richness and progression of Black culture. The event will include food, music and dancing. It is black-tie and requires an RSVP through Bullsconnect, with 139 spots currently remaining.

Walker said she hopes the events of 2024’s Black Heritage Month will not only provide a sense of togetherness for Black students but for those outside the community as well.

“I hope to see a lot of people come out, to learn, to celebrate, to have their voice heard and…support each other and celebrate Black heritage,” Walker said.