The Daily Gamecock

Black History Month kicks off

Stories, memories reflect personal spirit of heritage

 And it wasn't until 1926 that recognition of black history began in earnest with "Negro History Week," which later expanded to fill the entire month of February.

Kicking off Black History Month, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Black Faculty and Staff Association unveiled their February plans in the Capstone Campus Room Wednesday at noon.

Among them: Hip Hop Wednesday, a visit from Rev. Run of Run-D.M.C. and the 2012 Gospel Extravaganza.

Rodrick Moore, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Kenneth Frierson, assistant director, are both enthusiastic about their plans for Black History Month.

"It is important to promote awareness of African-American history to the campus at large," Moore said. "[There is] no better way to do this than through events."

Events this month will showcase everything from films, food and music to literature relating to black history, which Frierson hopes will help educate and influence students.

"[Black History Month] will benefit the university community because black history is American history, and our theme of the month is 'Embracing the Past: Shaping the Future,' so as you learn more about the past, you will learn more of your future," he said.

Wednesday's speakers echoed that theme, drawing from personal experience and the experiences of others to remind students to be mindful of the past, their country and people's heritages, as well as to be more aware and appreciative of the opportunities in their own lives.

That resonated with John Cuenin, third-year political science and economics student and Student Government Historian, who said he came to the event for the passion its cause embodies.

"I thought it would be a really good program because I feel like students should participate in programs more often," he said. "The people that put on events are very passionate about the causes they promote."

Much of that passion stems from the personal stories and experiences that comprise black history.

Oran Logan, a first-year biology student, welcomed attendees to the kick-off event and introduced what he described as a "Black History Month celebration of beautiful people with triumphant stories and heritage."

Gene Luna, associate vice president for housing and student development, has one of those stories, which he calls his "personal black history."

Luna grew up near Greensboro in Leeksville, N.C., and was a student at Roanoke College during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He roomed with the college's first black student and athlete.

"I felt a little special being asked," he said.

Luna and his roommate, Frankie Allen, who coaches men's basketball at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, became best friends during their time together, a friendship Luna said he still values.

"There began a friendship and education for both of us I wouldn't trade any of my degrees for," he said.