Portraits from the Kinsey Collection hang in the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. The Kinsey Collection is displayed throughout the month of February to honor Black History Month. Photo by Audrey Hartono
Throughout the month of February, Pepperdine will partner with several organizations to honor Black History Month. Black History Month is a time to honor and celebrate Black voices around the world, as well as educate others about Black history and Black culture.
The month is filled with activities including a Presidential Speaker Series highlighting racism across the United States and student-run events to promote education about Black history. The Kinsey Collection — an exhibit of African American history and art — will also be available on display at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art throughout February.
“The best way to appreciate Black history is to learn it, to educate yourself about it and to figure out what Black contributions were to society as a whole,” said Myles Dennis, Alpha Phi Alpha Incorporated president.
APA began in 1906 as the “first inter-collegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American men,” according to the group’s website. The fraternity’s goal is to promote brotherhood among all Black Americans, according to their website.
The Kinsey Collection
The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art kicked off February by showcasing the Cultivators: Highlights from the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection. The Kinsey Collection features African American art, photographs, books, letters and manuscripts from the past five centuries.
Kinsey Collection founders Bernard and Shirley Kinsey both earned graduate degrees from Pepperdine. Their art collection reflects their personal journeys of self-discovery and shared experiences, according to the Kinsey Collection website.
The official opening ceremony for the exhibit will be Feb. 19 from noon to 5 p.m., but the exhibit is open to the public from Jan. 15 to March 27.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Tua Lambda members went to the Kinsey Collection as a chapter activity, and said they were impressed by the collection.
“In the Kinsey exhibit there are multiple paintings where he explained the inventions that we’ve [Black Americans] created,” AKA Treasurer Secretary Gabrielle Valsaint said. “We’ve created the ice cream scooper and the mailbox numbering system. That painting has her whole body full of inventions. I think that we need to take that education and apply it.”
Presidential Speaker Series
The University also offered the first installment of the 2022 Presidential Speaker Series on Feb. 16, titled The Dream King: How the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr is Being Fulfilled to Heal Racism in America.
Will Ford and Matt Lockett spoke to community members about the history of the civil rights movement, the power of prayer and shared their wisdom about how to heal the racial divide in the United States.
Ford is the director of the Marketplace Leadership Major at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. He is also the founder of Hilkiah Ministries, a ministry centered around intercession, reconciliation, awakening and reformation.
Lockett is the executive director of Justice House of Prayer in Washington, D.C., and leads prayer and intercession on Capitol Hill.
Pepperdine’s Black Student Association is hosting multiple events throughout Black History Month to educate Pepperdine community members. BSA is also hoping to provide a safe space for Black individuals to honor and talk about their history, said Naya Edwards, vice president for External Affairs for BSA.
BSA kicked off the month with a movie night, during which they watched the film, “The Hate U Give.” After the movie, students discussed the film and what they learned from it.
“It just talked about police brutality and what it feels like, as far as your identity, as a Black person in different environments,” Edwards said. “We talked to our members about how the movie made them feel and things that they applied to life or things about Black culture that they could relate to.”
Next for BSA was a talent show where students could sing, dance, perform poetry or entertain the audience with karaoke.
“[The show] was a laid back theme that just gave people a safe space to have fun and be with each other,” Edwards said.
For Valentine’s Day, BSA students tabled on main campus Feb. 14, and handed out Valentine’s Day treats along with facts about Black history.
“Just being able to educate people who want to be educated and give out information about Black history and Black culture as well as a little treat because it is Valentine’s Day,” Edwards said. “We wanted to be able to reach people that we may not reach in our meetings.”
Edwards said BSA will continue to host events throughout February to educate their peers and honor Black culture. They plan to host poet Len Thompson next, where Thompson will share her poetry and engage in discussion about Black history.
Importance of Black History Month
Carter G. Woodson founded Black History Month in 1926, and is now a nationally recognized celebration with different themes every year. This year, Black History Month’s theme is Health and Wellness, according to National Public Radio.
“I think [this month] would be great for people to challenge themselves to learn something that they didn’t know, or maybe do some self reflection,” Edwards said. “And to think about intersectionality when it comes to people who have multiple identities, or how their life affects the things that they’re doing in their life.”
Edwards said the best way for students to honor Black History Month is to learn more about it and to highlight Black alumni at Pepperdine.
AKA President Launnie Phillips agreed, and said community members should use the resources they have to learn and support Black history,
“I think there are so many ways to support Black history throughout the year, it should not just be confined to one month,” Phillips said. “Our history is a huge part of the building of this country. There are so many ways that you can do that — honoring it, celebrating it, learning about it — throughout the year.”
Phillips said she encourages her peers to look into the history of what they are passionate about and see if there is Black history related to it.
“If that means starting to learn about your passionate subject so that you know what we have done for this country and what we have fought for just for our people,” Valsaint said. “Start today, start tomorrow, start in February.”
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