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First Black History Month with the BCC

Educational books about black history, racism and mental health, are lined up in the window of the Black Cultural Center.

Even though we’re already more than halfway done with Black History Month, Weber State University’s Black Cultural Center is far from done celebrating its first official Black History Month since its grand opening.

The BCC, which opened during fall semester, celebrates all Black students, regardless of diaspora or background. Because of this, the BCC is hosting events celebrating a variety of Black history events to cater to many of the diaspora on WSU’s campus.

“I just think it’s nice to have everyone connected and students being able to see what their culture is like… it’s a very teachable moment,” Stella Hegngi, Student Program Support Specialist at the BCC, said. “And teach people that the diaspora is not just here, but it’s everywhere”

The first few events of the month have already come and gone, including a panel discussion with the Divine Nine, a group of historic Black sororities and fraternities, on Feb. 7 and a showing of the movie “Love and Basketball” on Feb. 13.

The upcoming events include Adobe’s Black History Month event in Lehi on Feb. 20, a student panel on celebrating diversity within the Black identity and an African dance performance both on Feb. 21, free haircuts by a Black-owned barbershop and a Bomba Marile performance on Feb. 23 and finally the BCC open house on Feb. 28.

“I think it’s very important because it really touches on culture, and it’s important that when you’re coming to school, you’re able to see people who are also just like you, you know, it keeps you motivated and makes you want to stay in that environment,” Hegngi said. “Because if you’re going to a place where you don’t see familiar faces or familiar things, especially if you’re coming from a whole other place, you’re not going to feel connected, you’re not going to feel like a part of the school and that’s where the dropout rates come in.”

WSU’s BCC, though new, is meant to be a place where Black students on campus can come and feel a part of a community, regardless of what “type” of Black they are. Whether they consider themselves to be African American, Caribbean, African or anything in between, the BCC has taken all of those identities into consideration when deciding on what events to hold.

The student panel on celebrating diversity in the Black identity is a space for Black students of all backgrounds to talk about their experience in having that identity and what that means to them, especially as it relates to WSU.

“That just gets all the students together that are Black identity and they get to talk about their experience at Weber being Black or their experience in Utah being Black. And that’s just a really good way to connect with people, especially since there’s a lot of African international students. So it’s good to see their insight on how they feel being in any country,” Hegngi said.

The African Dance performance is meant for the students who consider themselves to be African as part of their Black identity to feel connected to their culture and to show that WSU is a place where their culture matters and where it can be represented.

The Bomba Marile performance is meant to have a similar effect on those students at WSU who are from Caribbean diasporas.

The BCC is hosting an open house at the end of this month and because the center is so new to campus, this event is intended to show off the BCC and the resources it provides for Black students and any other students on campus.

“The open house is just like the ribbon cutting for the Black culture center. The center is open right now. It’s been open since the beginning of last semester,” Hegngi said. “We’re doing our ribbon cutting and we’re kind of just showing the public like, this is a space for everybody. Black or not, you know, you are welcome in this environment.”

The BCC’s Black History Month celebrations are part of the center’s efforts to promote itself and to show Black students that there is a place on this campus for them, even if they only make up 2% of the university’s population, according to College Simply.

“One thing I want to get out to Black students is don’t be afraid to show your face here. This is a place where you are welcomed and no matter where you’ve come from, you can come from Africa, you can come from the south, you can come from, you know, Utah born and raised. Just don’t be afraid to come and use the resources. Don’t be afraid to come and talk to anybody in here because you know, we all share the same experiences, believe it or not,” Hegngi said.

The Black Cultural Center is meant to serve the entirety of WSU’s campus, no matter what race, nationality, ethnicity or background you come from. It can be a place of learning for everyone.

“I feel like a lot of people hear ‘Black Cultural Center’ and they get scared because they only think it’s for Black people, but that’s not the case. We have people in here all the time, like the writing center comes in here and tutors people so we always see people from different backgrounds, different cultures, different skin colors,” Hegngi said. “But it’s just good to know that this is a place where people who do identify as Black have a safe space. Don’t be afraid to be in here but understand that this is a place that people deserve to be comfortable.”

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Brisa Odenthal
Brisa Odenthal, News editor
Anna Kuglar
Anna Kuglar, Photography editor

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