As February begins a new month of academic hustle-and-bustle at the University of Dallas, it also ushers in a period of reflection relatively new to the institution: Black History Month. Beyond the classical studies of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr., among others, UD has recently decided to represent the African American figures key in the historical study of Western Civilization in a more proactive manner.
On the institutional level, two key events will be featured during the celebration: the customary library display featuring known authors such as James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr., and a talk given by Dr. Nicholas Buccola, a scholar in American political thought who has written titles such as “The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America” and “The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass: In Pursuit of American Liberty.”
The talk will take place on Feb. 28, with Dr. Jonathan Culp and a student representative panel included in the discussion.
On the student level, the Student Leaders for Racial Solidarity, or SLRS, led by president Damian Kosciolek, a senior psychology major and layout editor for The University News, and vice president Prince Obegolu, a senior economics major and business minor, wish to bring about peaceful conversation concerning racial solidarity and the celebration of differences, especially after the events surrounding the year 2020.
Advised temporarily by Dr. Mark Petersen, they lead monthly meetings, bringing in different scholars to discuss moral issues, celebrating different cultures with other clubs and volunteering to give back to the local community.
“We’re a new club, so a lot of people were unsure of what we were in the beginning, and there were a lot of assumptions made about the club,” stated Obegolu.
“But, we’ve been established for a year, so we have a clear mission that people understand now, which is celebrating differences of culture, ethnicity, and ideas. This is what we’re primarily supposed to do as Catholics: love and celebrate each other.”
Prince Obegolu is currently sitting as a student representative on the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee this semester.
“We aren’t ever going to conspire against the UD community or polarize it or try to bring it down. I love this campus, I love this community, and I think we truly do belong here; we belong under that umbrella term ‘Katholikos,’” said Kosciolek. “My end goal is uniting that universality with racial solidarity.”
The club will be hosting a meeting in February in order to usher in 2022’s Black History Month.
“A big thing for me when I celebrate Black History Month is reminding those around me that we aren’t just celebrating blacks and our history; we are celebrating American history,” stated Ivy Prater, an African American sophomore majoring in psychology at UD, speaking on the importance of Black History Month.
“We need to know where we come from and how all the peoples who changed the narrative developed. In places like UD that like to study old civilizations to learn and grow from them, we also need to understand recent history to learn and grow from them as well.”