BY FLORI NEEDLE '20
Mount Holyoke College takes pride in its racial and ethnic diversity. Despite that, it is often difficult to garner full participation in celebrations like Black History Month.
Nyasha Franklin ’19 and Kannah Landford ’19 are members of the Association of Pan African Unity on campus. They were tasked with over- seeing Black History Month events for the 2017 spring semester. Both say that they enjoy organizing these events but the effort can be tiresome and difficult when MHC’s administration and departments do not provide support that would simplify the process.
Franklin, speaking of her own accord and not on behalf of the APAU, said, “The school should reevaluate if they care about the diversity we bring to campus. If they truly cared, they would be reaching out to the cultural orgs and actually showing interest in our causes.”
Sandile Mhlaba ’20 said that although it is their first Black History Month at Mount Holyoke, it appears that “most recognition efforts are spearheaded by the students and it doesn’t seem like the administration would be doing much without them.”
Landford believes one of the main issues is that college administrators who boast about the differences in student identities and backgrounds at Mount Holyoke College do not even attend the Black History Month events on campus. She said that instead of supporting the black com- munity, the administration is busy promoting FebruMary — an event to fundraise and honor the college’s founder Mary Lyon. Landford said, “Mount Holyoke talks about being diverse and inclu-sive but they lack the execution. For them, it is easier said than done.”
The sentiment shared by those interviewed seems to be that Black History Month and other events that are important to non-white ethnic and racial groups are not given proper attention when it comes to garner- ing support from administration and other faculty and staff. Most of these events are coordinated by students who, despite their enthusiasm for their causes, struggle to balance school work and event planning at the same time. Their work feels even less rewarding when events they plan receive low turnout.
But Landford does not blame the student body. She said that most of the advertising for APAU events is minimal because they do not always have the resources to make widespread announcements.
Landford also wanted to emphasize that Black History Month is not just for black people. All races and ethnicities are welcome at Black History Month events because the survival of ethnic culture depends on people of all backgrounds coming together to support each other.
The Mount Holyoke News reached out to the president’s office for comment on the issue but no response was received.
It is the hope of those interviewed that collaboration between cultural organizations and the MHC administration will increase in the future. They hope that important events, not just Black History Month, will get the attention they deserve. They would be eager to work hand-in-hand with administrators to bring awareness to Black History Month and recognize the incredible feats that people of color have accomplished over the years.