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Black History Month at Drake

Ever since President Gerald Ford declared February would be Black History Month in 1976, the month has blossomed into a celebration of Black culture. 
To kick off Black History Month, Drake University Provost for Equity and Inclusion Erin Lain sent out university-wide emails at the start of February, reminding students of the month’s significance and sharing opportunities to celebrate. 
“This year we have some exciting speakers coming and panel discussions happening throughout the month,” Lain said. “There’s lots of cool stuff we’re trying to promote and this is a time for students, faculty and staff to take some time to reflect on the contributions of African Americans to the United States and the challenges that the Black community is facing right now in terms of racial justice.”
An annual Black History Month tradition on campus is the Coalition of Black Students’ Black on Black banquet is an annual tradition with faculty members, such as President Marty Martin, in attendance. The banquet took place this past weekend on Saturday, Feb. 28.
But some students wished they saw more effort from the university staff.
“Black History Month isn’t just a month,” junior Madyson Sklar said. “But we often want to make sure we feel comfortable and find a box. When emails are coming from white faculty or administration and that’s all they do for Black History Month, I’m like ‘alright’. However, members of our administration do go out of their way and I don’t want to neglect the efforts they do take when it comes to their organizations.”
In the past, Drake has received criticism for incidents involving poor treatment of Black students and people of color on campus. Such incidents have included the use of derogatory, racist language in the classroom.
According to Lain, the university has since begun to make improvements.
“It was really hard to see that type of hateful sentiment happening,” Lain said. “Since then, we’ve worked hard to make sure that incidents like that don’t happen on campus and we’ve implemented some things like bulldog foundations… but it takes a community effort of holding each other accountable. We still have to focus on it quite a bit.”
As Lain said, it takes a community to bring change and that’s even more prevalent with the racial injustice happening today.

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