With events organized by faculty members and representatives of Andover’s Afro-Latino-American Society (Af-Lat-Am), a club that discusses topics within the black and latinx community, Ando ver will observe Black History Month this February. Black History Month is observed annually in the United States and Canada in February, but in the United Kingdom it is observed in October. The month aims to commemorate important people and events in black history.
Af-Lat-Am kicked off the month with screenings of “Fruitvale Station” and “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” as well as a “Luke Cage” marathon. In addition, Af-Lat-Am will host a Black Arts Coffeehouse, a Black Arts Regional dance, a Drama Lab about Martin Luther King Jr. and the night before his death, a reading by poet Nate Marshall, an assortment of faculty speakers, and a vigil for black victims of police brutality.
Keely Aouga ’19, a board member of Af-Lat-Am, said, “Many of the things we’re doing aren’t like lectures… people watch movies and then they can learn from the movie. Also, especially last year, the Coffeehouse was a big hit with many people, and it was the black students on campus showing parts of their art. So, from that people can see… a part of who we are. And [there are] faculty members speak- ing… [and] if these are your teachers, of course you want to know what they’re saying or their thoughts on things so hopefully that will also draw many people.”
Aouga believes that the events Af-Lat-Am has planned for this month are important because they acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of people who have contributed to the legacy of the United States. She stated that celebrating black history is a way of showing that the successes and contributions of all people matter.
“I think [black history] is important to remember because America was built off of slaves. And to ignore the history of black people is to ignore all the work that the ancestors of black people have done to contribute to this country… It’s always important to acknowledge the people who have contributed to where we are now, especially people of color, in this case black people. Usually, as people of color, your success is either not appreciated or it’s ignored. We always have to pay attention,” said Aouga.
Ava Stills ’19, another board member of Af-Lat-Am, hopes that the events this month will draw students from all different backgrounds. She explained that the goal of this month is helping students have a better understanding of and appreciation for the achievements and struggles of the black community.
“We want… people [to] feel comfortable coming… it’s not just for a select group of people…We try and stress the fact that you don’t have to identify with something to be a part of it and to care about it. First of all, it affects you in ways that you don’t really know about and you probably have never thought about. But even when it doesn’t affect you really strongly, it still should matter to you… it’s okay to care about issues that aren’t necessarily yours. Our goal is [for students] to have a better understanding of something that isn’t necessarily theirs, and if it is theirs, to appreciate it more,” said Stills.
In past years, Andover has celebrated Black History Month solely with Black Arts Weekend. By planning events for the entire month of February, Af-Lat-Am intends to take advantage of the opportunity of the entire month to honor the achievements of black people.
Aouga said, “It’s called Black History Month and we wanted to take advantage of that month, especially because we don’t have a lot of time throughout the year where we get to have a lot of events in honor of black people.”
“[Black history] should matter more than just a weekend, it should be bigger than that,” Stills said.