February is Black History Month and is being celebrated around campus all month.
“Black History: Things you weren’t taught in History Class” was a group discussion held on Feb. 4 at Reece Museum. A large group came together in order to discuss their views and how black history is celebrated and why we do so.
Brook’ale Anderson, the leader of this discussion encouraged everyone to give their opinions and experiences concerning “black businesses” and how people can twist and turn their words as an excuse to not shop with these businesses.
For example, Brook’ale explained how people will buy the same articles of clothing at a different store to pay a cheaper price instead of at a boutique, due to the larger amount of customers. These businesses do not get enough business to lower their prices, therefore, they have to continue to keep the same price.
The presentation: “Overlooked: Black History”, included information that was completely unknown to many who attended.
Claudette Colvin, the first African-American woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white woman, has been quite overlooked. This incident occurred just six months prior to Rosa Parks and the Alabama Bus Boycott. At the time, Colvin was a 15-year-old, pregnant, African-American woman. Although she did not have to have a reason, she refused.
“It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady,” she said during her refusal. “I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right.”
However, in the discussion, the conclusion was made that Colvin had been replaced by Rosa Parks, who had become the new face of the African American Women and the Alabama bus Boycott, although Colvin was the first to refuse her seat on the segregated bus.
Toward the end of the program, Anderson discussed some of the African-American influencers who had ties to ETSU. Hyder Gose Bundy was the head chef at East Tennessee State College. Veronica Beidleman was crowned Homecoming Queen of 1970 and Miss East Tennessee State University, making her the first black woman to win both of these titles during the same year. Karen Kemp retired in 2013 as ETSU’s longest-tenured women’s basketball coach, having coached the Bucs for 19 years. Kemp died in 2018 at age 55.
Anderson believes it is important to spread awareness about Black History Month.
“Black History is American History,” said Anderson. “It is something we can find very interesting and be intrigued to know more about. Lesser known history is just as important and just as influential and I hope we can make that awareness.”