The beginning of February marks the start of Black History Month, a time for the celebration and remembrance of important people and events throughout the course of African American history. This is an occasion that holds importance in both our small community and across the world.

In observance, ETSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs has planned many events through the month to promote and unify our student body.

“I am most excited for two newer events. The Langston Hughes Project, which will be Feb. 13, and the Poetry Café on Feb. 19,” said Tedra Bennett, assistant to the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “The Poetry Café is kind of like an open-mic.”

The Langston Hughes Project is a group from Greensboro, North Carolina. They will perform music while participants recite poetry or perform songs.

“Whatever their creative inspiration is, they can do it,” Bennett said of participant involvement. “It is something that will be different for a lot of people because it is life. It is spontaneity and authenticity.”

The Langston Hughes Project is a poetry competition based around student works that have been submitted to Multicultural Affairs. Poems are hand selected and submitted to the Langston Hughes Director, who chooses music and imagery to match the words in order to create an experience like no other.

“I think it is a great opportunity for young spoken-word artists or poets to do something to get their work out there,” said Bennett.

Another event is based around 2018 blockbuster film “The Hate U Give.” There will be a screening event held on Feb. 25, followed by a discussion titled “Black Stereotypes: Breaking the Chains” that will be hosted among faculty and students.

“It is just something for them to talk over and be open about. It’s a way to bridge and take the stigma out of black neighborhoods,” said Bennett, expressing her excitement for the conversation.

Bennett encourages students to take part in the festivities because she finds it is important to celebrate the people of the past today.

“I feel like it is a way to remember people who have done great things in the past, being black people,” said Bennett. “Here, there is a lot more to celebrate, regardless of the shift that has been made.”

A more extensive list of events, additional information and specific times can be found on the ETSU active calendar website. There will also be a kick-off event filled with fun, food and information on Feb. 1 from 7-9 p.m. in Roger Stout Auditorium.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, especially now more than ever,” Bennett said. “I feel like that is the whole point of celebrating black history. It is not about singling out anything but about showing the strengths of the black, strong people who fought what they fought for us to be here today.”