Office of Multicultural Affairs celebrates Black History Month

    Office hosts events for campus and community

    Ashlie Fanetti

    More stories from Ashlie Fanetti

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    Photo by McKenna Dirks

    February is recognized as Black History Month and the UW-Eau Claire Office of Multicultural Affairs has planned a calendar full of events for the UW-Eau Claire campus and Eau Claire community to celebrate together.

    Michael Thomas, a student services coordinator at OMA, said the purpose of Black History Month events is to provide an opportunity for people to recognize the contributions Black people have made to American society.

    “Black History Month is important in making sure that there is a narrative that speaks truth in spaces that are for the upliftment of Black people, their identities and experiences,”  Thomas said.

    Thomas said it is specifically important for the UW-Eau Claire community because it is a predominantly white institution with multiple marginalized identities — including Black people.

    It is important to intentionally include a variety of Black experiences in celebrations to further advance the institution’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts, Thomas said.

    “We need to make sure that we continue to acknowledge and engage with the history of Black people in a way that adds value to what we do as an institution,” Thomas said.

    OMA has planned a range of events for people to attend and participate in for Black History Month with these purposes in mind. Here are three to look into:

    Trap N Paint

    The Trap N Paint event is an opportunity for people to paint a Black History Month-themed art piece. Participants can either paint their own picture or follow a video tutorial of a Black History Month painting.

    Participants will also enjoy music by Black artists as they create their art.

    Thomas said it was important for OMA to host this event because it included the arts and recognized Black peoples’ contributions to the arts.

    “This is a super fun activity for people to participate in and you can really make it your own,” Thomas said.

    The Trap N Paint event is currently scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 22. It is currently a virtual event. You can RSVP for the event here

    Second Annual Black Multicultural Hair & Skin Drive 

    The Black Multicultural Hair and Skin Drive is happening the entire month of February. Thomas said the event came about when two student organizations — the Black Student Alliance and the African Student Association — teamed up to support area youth of color.

    A drive like this is especially needed in the Eau Claire area as it is a predominantly white community where many black youths are the adopted children of white families who don’t always know how to care for Black hair or what products to use, Thomas said.

    “This is a really tangible way to give back to underrepresented communities,” Thomas said.

    Jasmine Rosario, president of BSA, said BSA and ASA wanted to find a way to give back and help Eau Claire area youth of color.

    “It is especially difficult for Black individuals to access hair and skin products that are affordable when they are less fortunate,” Rosario said.

    The BSA and ASA planned the BHM drive with this in mind. 

    The goal of the event is to get community members to donate products for Black hair and skin so that the products can be given to Black youth and their families in and around Eau Claire who need them, Rosario said.

    Donations for the BHM Drive can be dropped off in the box in the OMA office at UW-Eau Claire located in Centennial Hall 1106, next to Einstein’s Bros. Bagels.

    Black History Month guest speakers

    In addition to all of the events people can participate in, OMA is also hosting a number of guest speakers throughout the month starting this week.

    The first speaker will serve as the keynote for the fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration among other speakers. 

    According to the event page, Damario Solomon-Simmons will speak to the importance of civil rights and social justice and how it aligns with the legacy of MLK. 

    Solomon-Simmons is a civil rights lawyer based out of Tulsa, OK. He has represented clients at all levels of court.

    The Fourth Annual UW-Eau Claire Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration can be viewed live at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10 at uwec.ly/live

    Another guest speaker will be hosted at 12:00 p.m. on Feb. 11 virtually.

    Cecilia Brown J.D. will speak on police brutality in communities of color as part of OMA’s Blugold Dialogue Series.

    Thomas said both speakers are discussing tough and uncomfortable topics for some people, but he said he hopes they will be a learning opportunity for people in attendance.

    “You learn most when you’re uncomfortable and you are able to adjust to things, and these speakers will provide that,” Thomas said.

    Thomas said most of these Black History Month events are different because they are virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but OMA is focused on providing quality programs and services. 

    “We are making sure that we as an office continue to respond to the needs of our students, continue to keep a pulse on our student experiences, and provide quality programming,” Thomas said.

    For a complete list of Black History Month events and more information on OMA services and programs, you can visit their website and follow their social media for updates and spotlights throughout Black History Month and beyond. 

    Fanetti can be found at [email protected]