2018 Black Excellence Winner Kyree Mackey
ENMU is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of events planned by African American Affairs.
February will hold no shortage of opportunities for students who want to learn more about African and African American culture and heritage. The organization kicked off the month with tabling to spread awareness about the events.
Damieamus Ochola, director of African American Affairs said, “When we’re choosing these events, we’re looking for things that will be cultural and also educative.”
On Feb. 6, Ochola will host a lesson in Swahili, the language that 23 countries in Africa speak.
African American Affairs will also be bringing in a mobile exhibit that will include artifacts collected across the U.S. by African Americans since they first came to the continent.
Isaac Brundage, vice president for student affairs from Western New Mexico University, will be at ENMU Feb. 11, presenting on the obstacles and challenges that African American men face.
Next month, during Women’s History Month, there will be a presentation on the challenges that African American women face, according to Ochola.
“We thought during Black History Month, let’s incorporate a male guide to talk about the challenges that African American men face,” said Ochola.
Geni Flores, coordinator of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and bilingual education, will be presenting on the town of Blackdom, which sits abandoned around two hours from Eastern New Mexico University. There will also be a presentation by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that will bring up topics such as civil rights and the changes that have been made in the rights of African Americans today.
The Black Excellence competition will be the finale of Black History Month and will be held on Feb. 28 in the Campus Union Building Lobby. In the past, only those with an African American heritage could compete, but this year, ENMU students of African descent can compete as well.
“Both Africans and African Americans can compete,” said Ochola. “The main purpose for [the black excellence competition] is to show the cultural heritage.”
Kyree Mackey, who won Black Excellence last year, said that she loves that Eastern takes time to celebrate Black History Month. She said the Black Excellence competition was her first time competing in a pageant of any kind, and she wasn’t expecting to win.
“It was exciting and nerve wracking,” Mackey said. “You notice when you mess up, so in my head, I was thinking, ‘oh I messed up so much.’ When they announced my name, I was shocked but also happy.”
Since Mackey won the competition last year, she will be hosting the competition this year. The competition is judged based on three categories: Speech, introduction, and talent. The student who wins will win a $100 scholarship.
While Black History Month is commonly celebrated across the U.S. , that isn’t the case for Africa, according to Ochola.
“In Africa, there is no Black History Month,” said Ochola, “We’re the same people, the same color. There’s no racism in Africa. We are one people.”