Tarleton celebrates Black History Month
By: Nicholas Ratcliff
As Black History Month comes to a close, so too does Tarleton State University’s celebration of this historic month that was filled with events hosted by the faculty and staff.
In an effort to dive into the importance of this month, as well as learn the ways it has evolved within these past few years Texan News spoke to the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Tarleton Lince Tiburcio.
When asked about the celebration of this month and how it has evolved, Tiburcio stated that, “One of the things that I began working on under my previous two directors was to infuse more student-centered programming to the celebration. For example, having a relevant mix of critical conversations about societal issues and celebratory events that highlight the beauty, resilience, Black Joy and contributions the Black/African American community has given the United States. All this gives me hope that Tarleton will move one more step forward towards a campus that non only celebrates (the fun and animated stuff) but also honors and examines Black History Month (this is a deeper level of consciousness about WHY BHM exists).”
Tiburcio’s efforts to increase awareness of this month around Tarleton’s campus are working according to Dr. Renee Barlow, a professor who teaches African American Cultural Studies and German at Tarleton.
Barlow, who’s doctorate is in African American Literature, stated, “The celebration of Black History Month has certainly evolved since I have been at Tarleton, and although the ODI has worked on this for years, there has been a greater awareness and advertisement on campus in the past few years. This year, there is going to be a great celebration, albeit virtual because of the weather and COVID-19.”
Barlow was one of the two speakers at Tarleton’s Black History Month Gallery that was hosted on Feb. 16 at the Stephenville campus and Feb. 17on the Fort Worth campus.
Barlow went on to explain, “The month has historically been seen as a time of celebration and reclamation of history, [but] there is room and an imperative to reflect on the really nasty side of history too. Most Americans have a vague sense of the dark underbelly of American history but rarely do they understand the particulars. More importantly, though, is how little we reflect on how that history impacts our present and future.”
While it might seem counter-active to some to discuss how our nation has failed when it comes to celebrating Black History Month, Tiburcio agrees with Barlow.
“The American education system has done a pretty good job at creating the myth that we have achieved equality across the board while sanitizing the cannons from stories that go against the ethos of our country’s foundational notions,” Tiburcio said. “A reflection is much necessitated not only during this time but throughout the year of the inequities and disparities marginalized communities suffer as a result of long years of oppression and how these communities are still being affected.”
But reflection upon the past’s mistakes is not the only important part of Black History Month. Both Barlow and Tiburcio agree that celebrating the rich culture of the African American community is equally important.
Barlow recommends that all the students at Tarleton celebrate this month by finding a facet of African American culture they enjoy and diving in deeper.
She goes on to explain that there are, “So there are so many ways and levels to celebrate Black History Month. It depends to some extent on where a person is on their journey of learning about the month. There is very little to American history that isn’t tied to black history, and I can’t think of much that we value in American culture (music, art, literature, values, grit) that doesn’t depend on black culture. I would say one easy way is to find out and amplify black achievements in a field you care about.”
With Tarleton’s celebration of Black History Month wrapping up, the university is happy to see the growing awareness of this important month.