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Black History Month: At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality

Bloomfield College kicked off a month of celebrating the history and achievements of African Americans with an opening ceremony that included music, speakers, the raising of the African American flag and a reception.

Coordinated by Maretta Hodges, director of the Educational Opportunity Fund, the Black History Month committee has developed a calendar of educational opportunities in history and civics, the arts, and career exploration. You can find out about all of the month's events on the downloadable Black History Month Calendar 2013 (pdf).

The opening ceremony featured keynote speaker Alvin Perry Ph.D. A corporate leader, professor, author, filmmaker, and inventor, Dr. Perry gave an inspirational talk about breaking mental chains. He began by noting that he was never expected to do more than average work, so that is what he produced in school. Breaking his mental chain in college, after he opted out of a statistic class three times, he discovered that he was holding himself back by not giving his studies the time and effort that was necessary to achieve greater knowledge – and grades. Once he realized that he was the only obstacle to his own success, he went on to achieve a masters and doctorate degree and followed his passions to writing books, teaching, and public speaking, among many other talents. His words of wisdom to the group were, “Keep your feet moving; you are one step closer to positive change. Quitting is a choice you do not have to make.” His lively, humorous and poignant speech resonated with many in the audience.

African Studies Professor Lauren gave a more in depth view of the evolutionary thinking of those whom we consider today’s heroes in the civil rights movement. “Lincoln started out as a white supremacist,” she noted. “As he became more knowledgeable, he backed both freedom and quality for Blacks and women.” She charged the audience to look to local heroes in the equality and freedom movement.

Student Stephanie Stevens gave an inspirational rendition of His Eye is on the Sparrow, and the audience all joined to sing the Black National Anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing, and We Shall Overcome, which was performed as the African American Flag was raised just beneath the Stars and Stripes. Student Mariah Price offered the history and symbolism of the African American Flag.

Black History month devotes an educational process for all students to learn and enjoy the contributions of African Americans to the fabric of the American tapestry. All are welcome to the events noted in the calendar.