KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo will observe Black History Month with a series of educational and entertaining events open to the community.
Tashona Jones, IU Kokomo’s coordinator of campus diversity, said she wanted to have many ways to celebrate the month, with topics to make people think and music to make them dance.
“I wanted to give people different ways to celebrate,” she said. “When I think of Black History Month, I think of all the fun aspects of African-American culture.”She added that the events are for people of all ages and races, not just for African-Americans.
“Black history is American history. I don’t think of it belonging to just one group of people. This is a learning opportunity for everyone.”
The month kicks off with a look into the future, as students from F.D. Reese Christian Academy present “Celebrating the Generational Dreams of the Class of 2024,” at 11:30 a.m. in the Kelley Student Center Commons. Their presentation includes reciting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” and singing the Black National Anthem.
Jones said while the children perform, they also experience being on a college campus, so they can start reaching for that dream.
“It’s important to expose them to college at an early age, and give them a goal,” she said.
On Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14, the topic turns to romance. Tanika Forestal, a family and marriage counselor, will talk about “Loving and Dating Across Racial Lines,” at 11:30 a.m. in the Havens Room, Main Building, Room 134.
The Epiphany Dance Collective, from Indianapolis, will perform traditional African dance and drum music at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, in Kresge Auditorium.
Jones is especially excited about soul line dancing, planned at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Alumni Hall.
“Soul line dancing is a big part of our weddings and family reunions,” she said. “It’s the one thing you can do to get everyone on the dance floor. ”
The month wraps up with a presentation, “Is Black History Month Still Relevant?” by Sarah Heath, assistant professor of history, at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the Kelley Student Center, Room 221.
Jones said it is meaningful to remember the struggles African-Americans have faced in the past, and the people who have overcome obstacles to make opportunities available to today’s generation.
“The young people tend to think Black History Month is not relevant to them. Sarah Heath ties in the Civil Rights movement to current events today and why it is still important.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.