Kent State Plans Full Slate of Events for Black History Month

“The Footsteps of Our Ancestors … the Legacy Continues” is the theme for this year’s Black History Month Celebration at Kent State University. 

“Because we are the birthplace of Black History Month, it is so important to acknowledge it and celebrate it, not just during the month of February, but all year round,” said Ilianna Velez, assistant director of Kent State’s E. Timothy Moore Student Multicultural Center, which is overseeing the planning of campus Black History Month events. 

Velez said the theme was selected “to highlight and acknowledge that our ancestors paved the way for us, but also to recognize those on campus who continue to do the work and continue to be trailblazers in their fields.” 

Members of Black United Students on the Kent State campus.
Members of Black United Students on the Kent State campus.

Black History Month traces its roots to 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life, established Negro History Week, celebrated during the second week of February.  

By 1969, the Black United Students (BUS) organization at Kent State, with support from campus educators, began to advocate that the entire month of February be commemorated as Black History Month. After a year of planning, the first observance of Black History Month as a month-long celebration took place at Kent State in 1970.  

It would be another six years before February received a formal national designation as Black History Month, when President Gerald Ford, in 1976, made the designation to coincide with our nation’s bicentennial celebration, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”   

BUS continues to take a leadership role in planning events for the month.