UCC is currently observing Black History Month with events, educational opportunities and workshops students can be a part of to observe an important part of American history.
The celebration to honor the contributions of blacks’ in American history began in January with a tribute to Martin Luther King Day titled “Week of Martin” hosted by the Students of Color Alliance or SOCA. The celebrations began with a two day reading of Martin Luther King’s “A Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It is a letter that King wrote while imprisoned for nonviolent demonstrations against segregation.
Other events included a showing of the movie Selma. Selma is a look back at the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The movie portrays moments that took place during the marches.
Dr. Martin Luther King and the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Council) marched on three different occasions in March of 1965. The marches were initially inspired to protest against rampant discrimination still occurring after segregation was officially outlawed in 1964. The movement also set out to promote voting rights for blacks.
“I have a dream today . . . I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
The marches became a bloody struggle met with resistance from local law enforcement on early attempts to march. The final attempt on March 21st with protection ordered by President Lyndon Johnson. U.S. Army troops, and Alabama National Guard forces, the march was able to reach its destination on the 25th.
In the end, their efforts concluded with President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that intended to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States.
Here at UCC’s Student Center, students can appreciate the monument constructed by SOCA that celebrates Black History Month in the display case. The library has a display with books that can be checked out to help people understand blacks’ contributions to our history, some with information that has been omitted from many texts and teachings.
SOCA will also host a couple of events this month. On February 18 SOCA will hold an event to assist students with finding and preparing for scholarships which are due March 26.
On February 19, SOCA will take a bus load of students to Southern Oregon University to attend a social justice conference. Any students interested in going to the conference can sign up in advance with Caroline Randall by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every year since 1976, all of the presidents have assigned February as Black History Month, also known as National African American Month, to celebrate the achievements of black Americans. The story of Black History Month actually goes back much further, however.
After the Civil Rights Movement during the late 1960s, Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.
The Library of Congress teaches that, President Gerald R. Ford formally recognized Black History Month in 1976, telling the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Roger Sanchez, one of the officials for SOCA, is very excited about Black History Month and showed a lot of passion towards being able to share the true importance of black American achievements. Sanchez declared, “Black history is American history.” Sanchez wanted to show the struggles it took for all of us to move forward and to keep addressing current issues that will help black Americans bring forth a secure sense of belonging and equality
SOCA’s mission statement is as follows; “Umpqua Community College Students of Color Alliance creates a safe, equitable, and inclusive space for students of color and allies to find academic and social support.”