Menlo Black Student Union Celebrates Black History Month

February 27, 2023


Kevin Chan

Students dance with the Diamano Coura West African Dance Company. At the Black History Month assembly, students and faculty were invited onstage to participate in the group’s dance after a solo performance from the group. Photo courtesy of Kevin Chan

The month of February marks Black History Month. Originating in the United States and recognized in three countries globally, Black History Month aims to shine a spotlight on the achievements and contributions of Black Americans to the U.S.

According to, the month was originally created in 1926 and was intended to only last for the second week of February, then titled “Negro History Week”. This week of acknowledgment grew into a month on several college campuses after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Eventually, the month of February was officially recognized in 1976 as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford. 

Senior and president of the Black Student Union Colby Wilson emphasizes the importance of Black History Month. “Black people have played such an integral role in shaping this country and have influenced culture worldwide,” Wilson said. “These efforts have historically gone unrecognized or undermined so having a month that highlights and celebrates our contributions as a people is vital.”

Junior and BSU member Valentina Marinucci also believes Black History Month serves as a way to recognize Black history that often goes overlooked. “I feel like a lot of Black history is erased in America […] outside of slavery,” Marinucci said. “So I think Black History Month gives […] a designated space to really emphasize that history that’s […] covered up or not remembered.”

Meanwhile, freshman and BSU member Maxwell Johnson sees Black History Month as a way to unify the Black community. “I think [Black History Month is] to sort of highlight all Black accomplishments throughout history,” Johnson said. “I think […] Black History Month is a time to promote […] Black culture more. I see it as a time to grow the Black community.”

The Black Student Union at Menlo honored the month by hosting an assembly on Feb. 13, which featured a live performance from the Diamano Coura West African Dance Company located in Oakland. The group performed traditional West African dances accompanied by three drummers and eventually invited both teachers and students to join in. 

Wilson had a set idea as she led the planning for the assembly. “I had a fairly clear vision of how I wanted the assembly to look […] I knew I wanted it to center around African drummers and dancers because I wanted to encapsulate the joy of the Black experience,” Wilson said. “I have a personal connection with the Diamona dance group, having danced and drummed with them throughout middle school in Oakland.”

In addition to the assembly, in order to individually recognize Black History Month, Johnson has been more focused on supporting Black-owned businesses. “I’m mainly, this Black History Month, just buy[ing] from more Black-owned businesses,” Johnson said. 

Wilson is focusing on advocacy and outreach during the month. “There are some events, like the annual Black Joy Parade and a [Person Of Color] dance that I will be attending. This year, I really focused on educating others and being a leader in the spread of knowledge to honor Black History Month,” Wilson said. 

Ultimately, however, being Black doesn’t just end with the close of Black History Month. “As I mentioned in the assembly, my blackness doesn’t stop at the end of the month. My fight for equity and equality is lifelong,” Wilson said.

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Andrea Li, Print Editor

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