Mt. Vernon Hosts Beyond Black History Workshop

WCC’s Black History Month celebrations got off to a spirited start with a collection of events that highlighted and acknowledged the achievements of African Americans culturally, politically, and historically.

The celebrations have extended onto the extension sites as the Mount Vernon Extension center hosted Beyond Black History, an interactive workshop held on Monday Feb. 12. The event featured keynote speaker Professor Kevin McGill, with remarks on WCC’s Black History Month proceedings by Ken Jenkins, Westchester Deputy County Executive.

According to McGill, Black History Month was the brainchild of Carter G. Woodson, which evolved from Negro Week into a national time to honor the triumphs as well as the struggles of African Americans throughout history. In celebration of the theme of Black History Month 2018, “African American in times of war,” the roles of African Americans in every American War from the Revolutionary War Era to present were examined.

McGill highlighted the role of the Harlem Hellfighters, an African-American infantry unit in WWI that spent more time in combat than any other American unit. Despite their courage, sacrifice, and dedication to their country, they returned home to face racism and segregation from their countrymen.

McGill said that African American History should be taught at every level throughout the educational system. Exploring Black History beyond the month of February has clear benefits. Professor McGill outlined them by as an avenue to teach as well as expose Americans to the positive contributions of African Americans in an effort to dispel the stigma and stereotypes passed on by misinformed people.

For McGill, teaching is a twofold method where children, parents and everyone who interact with a student are exposed to the lesson taught. Closing remarks made by Jenkins implored patrons to research  black history and the importance of exercising one’s civic rights.

“We were fortunate to have two speakers, keynote and special guests, challenging attendees to think about some event and public figures that they were not aware of,” said Janna Gullery, event coordinator and Assistant Director of the Mount Vernon Extension Center on the event proceedings and outcomes. “I appreciated Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins at the end who put out a callto action for attendees to stay civically engaged and enhance their civic engagement as well as its importance.”

According to Gulleroy, the event was successful.

There was a question and answer feature of the event that was designed to gauge attendees’ responses on the projection of black history beyond the month of February.

“I loved that it was pointed out that there are a lot more black women important to African American history than that have typically not being highlighted. I look forward more opportunities to shed light on local women of colour who have made a difference locally as well as on the national level,” said Francine Carl, Director of the Mount Vernon Academic Center.

“Publicly, there is interests in African Americans because of the new movies that are coming out,not just ‘Black Panther’ but also ‘A Wrinkle In Time’,” said Carl “I think that those are influencing a greater number of people beyond people of colour to be interested in African American History and to note what achievements have supported the growth of the country.”

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