Every year in the month of February, people across the United States take a minute to celebrate Black History Month.
The month of February is our cultural landscape and a way to honor our ancestors’ legacy. Being proud of who we are is an amazing thing and it is what we should do on a day to day basis. Coastal Carolina University is a predominantly white institution, but allows minorities to have a voice.
Intercultural and Inclusion student services takes part as one of the spokesmen. Students of any race and ethnicity can set foot in their office and feel at home. It is serviced by Director Ashley Gaddy, Assistant Director Franklin Ellis, and Program Assistant Bertha C. Fladger.
The “Black And’ series was created by the Intercultural and Inclusion student services which consisted of: Black and Asian and Black-Jew Dialogues. The last two events in the series will be Feb. 21, which will the Black and Disabled: expected and unexpected at 6 p.m. and Feb. 28, which will be the LGBTQIA+ Drag Show at 7 p.m., both located in the coastal theater. You can head to intercultural and inclusion events on the CCU website and follow them on Instagram @iissccu and twitter @IISS_CCU for more functions.
Director Gaddy embraces the fact that “what’s really important about the Black And series, out of this office this year, is that we wanted to focus on an intersexual framework; there are so many stigmas that black is monalific and it equates to one other identity like black and Christian, but in reality it doesn’t. Black varies and blackness varies.”
Gaddy had a part in choosing what the other identities that may not be as popular for “us” to team up with blackness. She began doing her diversity work in Virginia.
She first started out in housing and residence life at George Mason University. Gaddy was over their night operations which meant she worked from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting on Wednesdays and ending on Sundays. On Mondays and Tuesdays, she attended two classes. Then, she became a community coordinator and over saw a residence hall; that is where she did a lot of diversity work and because of that she took on a job at Virginia Commonwealth University where she was the assistant director of housing and multicultural.
“I wanted to move to strictly multicultural affairs and that’s how I came to [CCU]; to be the director and to focus on inclusion and interculturalism,” she said.
She is currently working on her sixth year in doctoral school in cultural studies. Her vision for when she first arrived in the Intercultural and Inclusions Office was to “respect the legacy that was [at CCU], but also start a shift.” IISS wants students to learn and have a desire to take initiative about what they can do at CCU. Gaddy has a goal to move that energy “back into the students so that they can put it in themselves.”
Gaddy gives response to Black History Month.
“As people of color I think the goal should be to celebrate the fact that we have power [and] always had power; in our knowledge, in our brilliance, in our beauty; it was just stripped away, we have always been legit. For non-melanated people, they need to realize that we’ve always been legit. Black History Month is to celebrate that and to make folks aware of that,” she said.
Assistant Director Franklin Ellis would like the students of CCU to attend more events.
“We do some great programming and people just don’t show up to them, so they are missing out on this culturally rich information,” Ellis said.
Ellis wants students to come by the office.
“Stop by the office, the doors are always open, or give me an email. We serve everyone; everyone has identities, everyone has multiple identities and we all have to navigate each other. Step in and find a place where you can be yourself and be appreciated,” he said.
The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) just celebrated their founders week this past Wednesday, Feb. 12 of 110 years of service. President Armondo Alford has been a part of NAACP for three years now. Ancestors of the struggle is a segment that allows the members of NAACP to portray a past ancestor. Right now, the date of Feb. 25 is selected, but if you check out their Instagram and Twitter, @ccu_naacp, you will receive more information on upcoming events.
“We include everybody in NAACP; not to be discriminated against, but to take all those racial and political issues. We try to be somebody to lean on. Getting our generation interested in the politics and [knowing what is going on around us] like the presidential election approaching,” Alford said.
NAACP believes and encourages that we have a voice even if you do not think you do. They held a voters registration in October that lead to the November election and another one may be in place soon.
“Be up to date with everything that is happening with our government; pay attention to all your local, worldly news. Remain aspired and know you have potential to be who you are and never forget that,” Alford said.