Written by Julie Leavitt.
In celebration of Black History Month, BYU-Idaho’s African-American and African Heritage Associations have teamed up to help students gain new insight into their culture and history.
“The idea is just to educate people about black history,” said Marvelyne Lamy, the president of the African Heritage Association and a sophomore studying English.
The associations have created the Black History Month Presentation that is taking place on Saturday, March 5 in the Manwaring Center Little Theatre at 7 p.m.
Ekow Amakye, who is performing a saxophone solo in the presentation and a sophomore studying biochemistry, said he really wanted to get involved with black history month to help educate students about true black culture and history.
“I thought it was a really good thing to portray what ‘Black’ stands for,” he said. “For me, it stands for unity; it stands for beauty; it stands for hard work.”
Amakye said he feels like because there is such little diversity in Rexburg, students tend to be misinformed about what it means to be African.
“I’ve had people ask if I live in the forest or live in the jungle, but I always, as much as possible, don’t get offended because I know it’s a misinformed idea they have,” he said. “I’d rather educate them and make them understand that Africa, where I come from, is just exactly what you see over here, except there are a lot more black people.”
He said he feels like there are a lot of things students can learn by understanding one anothers’ cultures. He said all cultures have strengths that others can benefit from.
“So you just look at what you don’t have and speak to other people from other cultures and learn from them,” he said.
Lamy said she feels that people’s opinions of black culture tend to come from what they see on TV.
“So, if I see a show where they’re always rappers or basketball players or whatever, it’s kind of like, ‘OK, well that’s my assumption of black people,’” she said. “And so we kind of want to change that stereotype and show them that we are well-diverse.”
Donnya Negera, the vice president of the African-American Association, said she wants people to recognize that the term ‘Black’ represents more than just one culture.
“There’s a difference between Blacks and African-Americans and Afro-Latinos,” she said. “Although we’re all black, there’s different cultures behind them.”
Sharday White, who is representing Ruby Bridges in the presentation and a junior studying communication, said she has enjoyed learning about the other participants’ cultures in the show.
“It’s so cool to see representation of what being African, or what being African-American means, from someone that’s from Nigeria, or from someone that’s from Boston, or from someone that’s from California,” she said.
Lamy said the audience can expect the presentation to be an informative experience.
“They can expect to learn something new and expect to feel the essence of black culture — soul, lots of poetry and lots of music, just lots of education,” she said.
She said the show follows a time line format, and her favorite part is the end, because it represents black history at the present time.
“I feel like people think that black history has stopped, but it’s evolving; it’s still growing,” she said.