Black students on how Black History Month has been acknowledged on campus

When it comes to celebrating Black History Month in a predominantly white institution, some Black students appreciate the inclusiveness at UCCS, but find there is still room for growth.

“UCCS tries their hardest to be inclusive, especially coming to the different Black clubs to partner with during Black History Month. I still think it could be improved in the future in terms of how it’s planned,” said Marissa Blackmon, a junior studying biology and secretary of the Black Student Union and African Student Association.

UCCS hosted a few events for Black History Month during MLK Days of Service & Action from Jan 31 through Feb 3, inviting speakers for keynotes and panels, as well as recreational activities to celebrate activism.

Nicole Asuquo, vice president of the sisterhood club, says that UCCS has worked toward inclusivity on campus. A large part of the work can be attributed to Black students who have fought to create their community through clubs and events.

Asuquo says BSU, ASA and Sisterhood Club give people the ability to learn about their history and to create community. Clubs and events hosted by Black students also mean white students have a chance to gain some insight into the struggles Black students face.

“You can’t solve a problem if you don’t even know it’s there, so it’s important to create visibility,” Asuquo said.

Blackmon requested that UCCS staff “show more support towards clubs in terms of promoting [and] attending … to show they want to listen.”

Asuquo is studying political science in order to make her voice heard and to show Black women can wield political power. She said that as a Black woman, she needs to feel safe “showing up authentically, and not trying to be digestible.”

Blackmon and Asuquo are both thankful for the open opportunities UCCS has given them and their clubs to flourish, and the time taken to honor the past. At the same time, they recognize how limited campus diversity makes it difficult to honor the whole of their heritage.

“We stand in a time where diversity is being noticed. UCCS is working really hard at that, but it’s not only through the spaces we create, it’s also how the students interact with other students,” Asuquo said. “Sometimes because of UCCS’ demographic makeup, it can be very other-ing. While they’ve done a decent push, there’s always more we can do. We also have a lot of conversations around it, but how active are the changes?”

“In another aspect of still understanding what it’s like to be a student of color, UCCS doesn’t understand,” Blackmon said. “It would be hard to understand something you wouldn’t necessarily go through.”

Black History Month has become a discussion in their community on how the Black community gets categorized as one group when there are many different cultural backgrounds, but coming together can also be their strength.

“No one is just one story,” Asuquo said, “We bring that diversity and awareness.”

“Learning from the past. Everything in education. The more you know, the more you know what not to do,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon and Asuquo look forward to BSU’s Black Excellence Gala, and ASA’s Journey to Africa. They and other club members have worked hard to create events that will happen during ROAR Daze.

Sisterhood Club vice president Nicole Asuquo (left) and ASA and BSU secretary Marissa Blackmon (right). Photos courtesy of Asuquo and Blackmon.