Since 1976, February has been designated Black History Month, an annual celebration for the recognition and remembrance of African-Americans who have made an impact on history.
ETSU students who wish to find an organization where they will learn and celebrate African-American heritage all year round can find a safe home with Black Affairs.
“Our focus is to educate the campus about who we are as African-Americans and doing stuff that students would normally want to do, like helping with parties, car washes, study groups and so on,” said President of Black Affairs Kreneshia Whiteside. “We’re here for all students, but we’re definitely here for our students first.”
Whiteside said meetings consist of talking about current issues, such as how students can help with the water crisis in Flint or discussions on political candidates and voting.
“We work with a lot of other organizations, such as NPHC [National Pan-Hellenic Council], and recently we met with Cru to work with them,” Whiteside said. “We’re kind of all over the place and really involved.”
The beginning history of the organization is unclear; however, its creation seems to be after the Civil Rights movement.
“We’ve never gotten a full history of how long we’ve been around, but we do have older pictures from the 70s and 80s,” Whiteside said.
Black Affairs collaborated with Men of Distinction, Ladies of Virtue, the Gospel Choir and members from the National Pan-Hellenic Council to bring various events to campus for the entire month of February.
“We were at a Men of Distinction event, and we started talking about random things like Black History Month and realized there’s really nothing on campus to celebrate it,” Whiteside said. “It’s almost as if the campus forgets.”
After a lot of planning and meeting, Black Affairs came up with a series of discussions and events called “Unapologetically Black.”
The calendar will include several events throughout the month of February, with each week being dedicated to a certain topic.
The first week will contain discussion panels involving the meaning behind Black Lives Matter and the different skin tones represented in the black community.
Voting will be the topic for the second week, when Black Affairs will host a discussion on the different political parties and candidates called “Do You Know Your Party?” and help students register to vote.
In honor of historical events and people, the third week will concentrate on black history. Students will find out how Black History Month became recognized, visit a mural dedicated to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and attend a formal celebration in the D.P. Culp Center’s ballroom.
The end of the month is considered spirit week, when students are encouraged to dress in particular colors, old high school outfits and ‘90s fashion.
Students can find a Black Affairs booth in the Atrium throughout the month for more information about these events.
“Even though almost all of the organizations involved are predominantly people of color, all of our events are for everyone,” Whiteside said. “We want students to bring us ideas, and we encourage new members who are interested to attend meetings or find out about events through BUC Hub.”