Montclair State University kicked off Black Heritage Month by having its annual Pan-African flag raising ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 1. Starting at College Hall, many students and faculty of color gathered together and walked to the Student Center quad where the actual flag raising took place.
The Pan-African flag symbolizes unity in all who are of African descent, making Black Heritage Month a campuswide experience.
The ceremony began with a libation by Dr. Sandra Lewis, followed by an opening statement from President of the Black Student Union Briana Matthews. Vice President of Student Development and Campus Life Dr. Karen Pennington also made an appearance, delivering a welcoming speech prior to Christopher Cottle and Dominic Bowman performing the Black National Anthem as the flag was raised.
“The flag raising ceremony is important because it brings us all together,” said Mathews, a senior sociology major. “We are walking in solidarity from College Hall to the flagpole and promoting black excellence through Black Heritage Month symbolizing that no one is left behind and no person is not a part of the black experience.”
Each year, students of color along with the African-American studies department come together to create the programming for Black Heritage Month.
The month is a campuswide experience that features many events to promote and educate this year’s theme, “Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness: Legacies of Pride and Promise.” The theme emphasizes that in order for black youth to look to the future, they must look back and recognize the people that made a change before them.
Psychology Professor Dr. Saundra Collins explained the meaning of this year’s theme.
“We recognize history and the seeds that were sown and the bridges that were built,” Collins said. “As we are standing now, we have to recognize that we are active participants in history, and it’s ongoing and shapes us in terms of what we need to do for the future.”
The ceremony was followed with a reception where students in Greek organizations recognized African-Americans that came before them and left a huge impact on their lives.
As the event drew to a close, there was an educational lesson on prominent African-Americans like Philip Randolph, Carter G. Woodson and Thurgood Marshall, aiming to inspire and motivate students of color to strive to make a huge impact on the world.