The warm welcoming of Black History Month

Christopher Gomez, Staff Writer


EJ Callahan, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Student-Centered Enterprises Inc., hugging Tamar Anthony, Co-Chair for the Black Faculty and Staff Association at the black history kick-off celebration. Photo by Jocylnne Landon / The Runner


The weather was bright and sunny to start the kickoff event celebration for Black History Month. Many gathered around to hear the various events that California State University, Bakersfield will hold for Black History Month. 

The event was held in front of the Student Union Patio. The event organizer for the Black History kickoff celebration is Dwayne Cantrell. Cantrell is the associate vice president for the Enrollment Management Division Office and is a part of the Black Faculty & Staff Association. 

Cantrell, addressing the community in front of a podium stated, “There’s been a lot we’ve seen from social media. It’s exhausting. Many times I had to fight emotionally.”  

Cantrell then asked the community a rhetorical question stating, “Are you living for someone other than you… how do you sing when things aren’t going well… It is faith that got me through… finish the race.” 

Another speaker that addressed the community was Uchechi Okey-Dike. Okey-Dike is a Student Advisor for African American Association and a Student Assistant for the Helen Hawk Honors Program. Okey-Dike stated, “Beautiful to see our community brought together to celebrate unity and each other… thank you for showing up.” 

After the addressment, the show was kicked off, with speakers blasting various songs, such as Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.”  

Karla Young, Public Affairs/Communications Specialist for the School of Business and Public Administration, out at the black history kick-off event welcomes embrace with a sense of unity. Photo by Jocylnne Landon / The Runner

The Bakersfield radio station, Forge 103.9, had their own table at the event. They raffled off various items like t-shirts and free tickets to “OURstory: The Black History Musical Experience” at Fox Theater on Feb. 6th. One lucky winner at The Black History Kickoff won these free tickets. 

While the raffle was happening, delicious food awaited everyone. There was deep-fried catfish, french-fries and tartar sauce. Refreshments were served as well, like ice-cold water and soda, to quench one’s thirst. It was a great addition to the event; many groups gathered to eat and communicate with each other.  

Among the community were various students that were interested in the event. Karen Navarro, a junior majoring in Psychology, stated “The event was well planned and inspiring… it showed why Black History Month is so important.” 

First established by Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian, the celebration of Black History Month was only a week-long event. February was selected by Woodson as the month of celebration because Frederick Douglas’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays are during that month. Woodson’s original association name was called The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

In 1976, Woodson’s association changed their name to The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and they shifted the celebration from a week into a month. Woodson created the celebration to recognize African American achievements. Overtime, Woodson’s celebration expanded to African American heritage and allowed for reflections of sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans. 

For more information regarding Black History Month, please visit: