Volume 96, Issue 70
Tuesday, February 4, 2003

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Black History Month links present with past

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

Speeches and performances celebrating African-Canadian culture kicked off the opening ceremonies for Black History Month in the University Community Centre atrium yesterday.

Organized by a coalition of campus and London-based groups to raise the profile of African culture, yesterday's event welcomed students from both nearby secondary schools and the Western community, said Angie Gachui, political affairs officer for the Black Students' Association, one of the participating groups.

"We're trying to [raise] awareness," Gachui said, adding one of the event's goals is to educate visitors about the social and political history of African Canadians. "Our history isn't taught in classes, so we're here to impart some truth."

Among the various speakers was Kevin Hood, event co-ordinator for the BSA. "If you ask a black student what their history really is, they probably couldn't tell you," Hood said, adding that most black youth are only aware of Malcolm X and slavery in America.

One of the main organizing groups, the London Black History Month Resource Committee, provided pamphlets and information booths for high school students to take back to their home schools, said committee member Christina Lord. "[Western] can be a part of Black History Month, where their home school cannot," Lord said.

Elena Diedrick, VP-internal for the Caribbean Students' Organization, said the actual organization of the event was an exercise towards celebrating diversity. "I'm very glad that the university gave us leeway to organize this," Diedrick said. "To see this materialize is just fabulous."

"I really liked everything," said Claudia Szabo, a student at John Paul II Secondary School. "It gave me a whole new perspective on blacks."

Brandon Petgrave, a student at Sir Wilfrid Laurier secondary school, said he learned a lot at the events information booths. "We don't get that [kind of information] in high school," he said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE