By Marianne Luedeman
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – In honor of Black History Month 2024, Gardner-Webb University is hosting a Black History Spirit Week during the week of Feb. 5 to 9.
Black History Spirit Week is set to recognize the African American community with five days of events, conversations, and presentations aimed at celebrating the richness of black culture on campus and beyond. Each day covers a different theme, with the overarching national theme being African Americans and the Arts.
Lawrence Brinson, Gardner-Webb’s director of Diversity and Inclusion, describes the week as “a time of celebration, celebrating African Americans, Black Americans, the journey, the resilience (of the Black community), and the success and achievements of African Americans.”
Lauren Washington, the assistant director of Diversity and Inclusion, further added that “it’s an opportunity to learn more” and that she wants to “make sure that we don’t have gaps in our history and miss people who helped pave the way for us.”
The first day of Black History Spirit Week, Feb. 5, is designated as Unity Day. Students are asked to wear red in recognition of this day, and a kickoff event will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the Clubhouse where “we’re going to talk about the meaning of black history as well as have a discussion about what it means to be unified,” said Brinson.
The second day, Feb. 6, Education and Achievement Day, is dedicated to celebrating excellence, achievement, and success in the African American community. Students are asked to wear gold on this day.
A 6 p.m. panel discussion will be held on Education and Achievement Day in Tucker room 141, where “we’re going to have a presentation talking about black Gardner-Webb graduates, their achievements, and talking about what education means, especially in the African American community,” said Brinson.
The third day, Feb. 7, is designated as Cultural Appreciation Day. Students are asked to wear green, and are invited to take part in a 6 p.m Black Cultural Fair on the third floor of Tucker.
Students are also invited to register for a Croc decorating event, where students will get the chance “to talk about our favorite things about African American culture and to get some perspective about what others admire about our culture,” said Washington.
The fourth day, Feb. 8, Social Justice and Advocacy Day, is dedicated to discussing social justice, activism, and advocacy in the African American community. Students are asked to show their support by wearing black on this day.
This day features a 6 p.m. Diversity Dialogue focusing on social justice issues, which will be held on the third floor of Tucker Student Center. “Policing, mental health, all of these issues. We’re going to talk about these issues that we need to advocate for and how to advocate,” said Brinson.
The final day, Feb. 9, is designated as Legacy and Future Day. The focus of this day is to reflect on the legacy and future of the African American community, and students are asked to wear red, green, and yellow to signify the Pan-African flag.
Washington also noted that, on each day of the week, “we’re also going to be in the lobby of Tucker from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for students to get swag, take pictures with our backdrop, and celebrate Black History Month with us.”
In addition to the spirit week, numerous other events are planned by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to celebrate Black History Month. “The gospel choir has a performance on the 29th, we’re going to have a Black history month dinner, and another special guest on campus, Wawa (more details to come),” said Brinson.
The dinner event, which is at 6 p.m. on Feb. 29 at Tucker Student Center, is aimed at creating understanding, perspective, and dialogue on racial healing and racial trauma. All students are invited to attend and have a respectful, open discussion about these issues. Students can register for this event by emailing Washington at [email protected].
“We want to talk about true racial healing, reconciliation, and to have an honest conversation about trauma. This allows us to facilitate conversation around those who may have caused trauma and those who may have been on the receiving end of it,” said Brinson.
An art exhibit focusing on African Americans and the arts will also be displayed in Tucker Student Center’s Ali Pouryouself gallery, which officially opens later this month (more details to come).
A major goal behind all of these events, according to Brinson, is to show that Black History “doesn’t begin with slavery and it certainly doesn’t end with it.” Washington added that she wants African Americans to know that “we came from kings and queens.”
The community is invited to celebrate Black History all year-round, Brinson noted. “Learning about black history is larger than just the African American community, this is something that everyone should invest in,” he said.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion added that, beyond Black History Month, the Gardner-Webb community can look forward to many more events and celebrations.
“Look forward to more from our office, we’re excited to celebrate different communities all year,” said Washington.
During the month, students are invited to share their Black History Month celebrations with #blackhistorymonth@thewebb.