Black History Month: A Time for Appreciation, Education, and Celebration
by: Justin Peters
The month of February brings cold weather and a much-needed reading week. But more importantly, February ushers in a focus on Black History throughout the University of Windsor campus and the greater community.
During the month, groups and teams within the Lancer community possess one common goal: to promote on-going learning about Black History and culture.
Sharing history and culture is important. It helps to facilitate a deeper understanding of one another and allows individuals to connect on a socio-cultural level. Thus, Black History Month is incredibly important at the University of Windsor and the greater Windsor community.
Mona Sleiman, Marketing and Sponsorship Manager for Lancer Athletics described her team’s work related to promoting Black History Month.
“We don’t want this promotion to be a checklist,” said Sleiman. “We are never done learning about minority groups and their struggles.”
Importantly, Sleiman noted how the month of February offers a time to celebrate the black community and the positive impact Black culture has in our society.
“Black History Month is a time to reflect and a time to celebrate. Despite the history of black racism and the systemic racism that still exists, we have so many black role models who are leaders, ambassadors and trailblazers in our community, country and around the globe” Sleiman said.
Sleiman was able to shed light on the work her team is doing to actively promote Black History Month to engage the Lancer community. Working in tandem with the Lancer Student-Athlete Committee (LSAC) and the Kinesiology department; educational events and social media campaigns have been created to encourage students to engage in learning about Black History and culture. The unique promotions are centered around themes like cultural events, racial advocacy, and supporting local black-owned businesses.
“We created this Black History Month calendar of events, there is one from Kinesiology called the 21-day challenge and we have one from LSAC; it’s not to compete with each other but to complement each other,” Sleiman said.
Nyamuoch Teny, a shooting guard on the women’s basketball team and Co-President of LSAC, is a leader for the Black community on campus. The fourth-year business major successfully outlined the purpose and goals of LSAC in relation to Black History Month.
“We’re focused on elevating the profile of Lancer athletics on campus and in the community,” said Teny. “The focus is not just participating in different promotions, initiatives, and events but creating them.”
Teny continued on to discuss how LSAC has an overarching goal related to spreading awareness of different themes such as anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion. As with most initiatives, more can be done to raise awareness and interest within communities of impact.
As the Co-President of LSAC, Teny offered ideas about what else can be done to raise awareness for Black History Month throughout the Windsor region.
“Spreading the word and educating ourselves, understanding what’s really going on, understand the history behind Black History Month to get something done,” Teny said. “It all starts with you, people should take it into their own hands, promote local businesses, and take time to talk and understand black people’s perspectives.”
Moreover, Teny suggested generating further awareness and educational opportunities throughout the Windsor campus in the form of sporting events with a Black History theme and working to integrate Black History into the University’s curriculum.
One of the key drivers of the promotion is the use of social media to disseminate information. Cailey Theos, the Student Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Lancer Athletics is an important contributor to distributing information related to the Black History Month promotion through Lancer social media platforms.
“It’s been a very rewarding experience for me because I’ve gotten the chance to learn so much about Black History, the Black community, and connect with so many Black student-athletes and hear their experiences.” Theos said.
Her role as a Social Media Coordinator carries significant influence, particularly during Black History Month.
“It’s important to put it [messaging] out there but more importantly, to understand why you’re putting it out there.” Theos said.
The promotion of Black History is of great importance not just in the month of February, but throughout the calendar year. By raising awareness and increasing education, Black History Month can continue to be an inspiration to the Windsor community. Theos concurred with this notion and urged the University of Windsor to follow this sentiment.
“Black History Month should be 365 days a year, give everybody a platform throughout the entire year, and make sure it doesn’t stop when the calendar flips to March.”