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Valley honors Black History Month with workshops, entertainment, exhibitions and other activities. 

By Zaida Diaz, Valley Life Editor

In recognition of Black History Month, Valley College is hosting a string of events spanning four days this week.

“It is meant to educate, celebrate, and honor Black History,” said Keidra Morris, Associate Professor of African-American Studies and a leader in planning the events of “Black Heritage Celebration.”

The first event, the forum, “It Takes a Whole Village to Help a Student,” was held on Monday from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. in the Student Services Multi-Purpose Room. Intended to inform students about all the services available to them, the forum’s speakers included faculty from the Career-Transfer Center, Admissions and Records, and Financial Aid. Associate Dean Sherri Rodriguez and counselor Reggie Reed also spoke.

Faculty emphasized that students, particularly African-Amercian students, should take full advantage of the resources at the college.

“You need to decide how much you want to fuel that personal desire to excel,” said Clive Gordon, general counselor and director of the Career/Transfer Center. “I can only wish that the number of African-American students and all students, in terms of transferring, increase, but I cannot do it for you.”

Many students asked counselors about dilemmas concerning financial aid or class registration.

“To know the benefits of joining EOPS [Extended Opportunity Programs and Services] and different things that are available on campus, I thought was very useful,” said communication studies major Andrew Anglin. “I’m definitely going to take more advantage of the Career/Transfer Center because so far I’ve been doing things on my own, when I could be getting more assistance and guidance.”

Gordon announced that the newly organized African-American Equity program will be funding specialized services for African-American students. Services will include tutoring, a counselor, and a cohort of classes. This is one of several ethnically oriented equity programs.

African-American Equity is currently accepting applications to take five-to-eight students on a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Tour. The trip costs $1,600; however, for qualifying participants, financial aid can reduce the student’s burden to only a $100 non-refundable deposit. Students interested in applying can see Gordon  or Dr. Morris at the Counseling Office.

On Tuesday, faculty and staff held a discussion about police brutality, micro-aggression, and community action. Speakers included two representatives from UCLA, Public Relations representative from Cal State Fullerton, one of Valley College’s sheriffs, and Associate Professor Administration of Justice.

Today there will be food and entertainment at the Student Services Plaza, near the club stands. The jazz band, “The Urban Groove” will perform from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“Black Heritage Celebration” will wrap up on Thursday with an exhibition of student Sankofa artwork, as well as a screening of the documentary, “Dark Girls.”

Sankofa translates as “reach back and get it” in the Akan language of Ghana; it also refers to the Asante tribe symbol of a bird looking backward and taking an egg off its back. It expresses the importance in taking the good from the past and applying it to the present, thus allowing progress.

“[The artwork] reflects how African-American history has affected students in a positive way,” Morris said.

The artwork will be displayed from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Student Services Multi-Purpose Room (SSC) 245. The screening will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by a group discussion.

“Dark Girls,” directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, takes a closer look at the deep-rooted prejudices involving women both outside and within Black American culture.

“It talks about how ideas of ‘colorism’ impact women negatively, not just black communities, but people of color,” said Morris.

Although the film focuses on dark-skinned women, Morris encourages all students to watch and participate in this thought-provoking conversation. “It’s important for men to watch as well, because they often  perpetuate cultural values,” Morris said.

“Black Heritage Celebration” is sponsored by the LAVC Black American Initiative, Student Equity, and the Associated Student Union.

For more information contact Dr. Keidra Morris at morrisk@lavc.edu.

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