The on-campus celebration of Black History Month officially began on Friday, January 31 with the raising of the Pan-African flag to signify the beginning of a month-long celebration of education and social events.
With horizontal bars of red, black, and green, the Pan-African flag has served as a representation of black people since early in the 19th century.
TCNJ President Kathryn A. Foster began a series of retrospective and introspective remarks to an intimate crowd gathered on the front steps of Trenton Hall, offering that now is a fitting time to review the hard — and sometimes uncomfortable — work the college has accomplished as a community in recent years.
“Raising the flag today acknowledges this recent history and it also symbolizes the work yet to come,” Foster said. “Let us salute this moment, those gathered here and the many on campus whose commitment to racial and social justice continues unabated — this month, next month, and forever more.”
Sophomore economics major Tia Suggs sang an acapella rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is often referred to as the black national anthem.
“I think about the raising of the flag and what that means,” said Marvin Carter, interim director of diversity and inclusion. “Historically, the raising of the flag meant that there was an overcoming that was taking place, how there was a victory that had been won, how there was a battle that led to that momentous occasion. And how you stand up and look at it and you think about the people that toiled to get there.”
Arianna Mohan, the multicultural events and affairs chair for The Black Student Union at TCNJ, says she sought the position to plan events to educate the campus community and to encourage involvement from students of color on campus.
“Black History Month is important to me because it recognizes the contributions African Americans have made throughout history, and celebrates these achievements,” says the junior sociology major.
Carter urged the crowd to not let the flag raising be the only symbolic thing they do during the month.
“Go to the events, have conversation,” he said. “Be willing to be uncomfortable in change and in challenge.”
— Emily W. Dodd ’03