Liberty hosts multiple events throughout February to celebrate Black History Month
Every year in February, Liberty University students have opportunities throughout the month to celebrate, experience and learn about Black History Month and African-American culture through a variety of events hosted by the Center for Multicultural Enrichment (Center4ME).
The Center4ME exists to promote the awareness, knowledge and skills necessary to interact with cultures different than the ones students grew up in and to provide minority students with a place to relax and call home.
The first objective of awareness is one Kerensa Dunfee, associate director for cultural competency and assessment at the Center4ME, and her co-workers are targeting through their events during Black History Month.
“One of the challenges we face in a lot of ways is (that) people don’t get it,” Dunfee said.
“They don’t see the problem because they haven’t experienced the problem.”
The issue of people not being conscious of their lack of understanding is one that is being battled by Lynchburg’s Legacy Museum of African-American History as well, which shares the accomplishments of African-Americans of Lynchburg and its surrounding counties.
Joyce Dixon, chair of the board of directors for the Legacy Museum, said the museum’s exhibits contribute to awareness by highlighting and recognizing individuals who may be unknown.
“It goes back to realizing that a lot of contributions of blacks were not put into history books,” Dixon said.
“Young people are not privileged to this information.”
The Center4ME, through its events, also seeks to ensure this knowledge is not meant to be treated as facts to be memorized for intellectual sake.
Instead, this knowledge should shape future interactions with cultures different than one’s own.
“If you engage with a culture that’s not your own it will make you a more well-rounded person,” Dunfee said.
“That way when you leave here you can share your faith with people that are different from you without going, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re weird.
What on earth are you doing?’”
Dixon echoed this idea, stating that, considering the racial events and tensions of the past year, Black History Month and further promoting understanding through knowledge is instrumental in moving forward.
“You can’t appreciate something that you don’t know about,” Dixon said.
“And you can’t appreciate a people if you don’t understand them and know about them”
The Legacy Museum — located on Monroe Street in Lynchburg — currently has an exhibit called “The Rhythms of Yesterday and Today.”
The display features local bands from the past, and was formed through the help of individuals who were members in those bands.
An event surrounding this exhibit will take place Feb. 24 from 1-3 p.m. at the Miller Center Theatre.
The Center4ME is also hosing an event called Merge, which will be a traditional African-American worship service held in the Prayer Chapel Feb.
16 at 7 p.m. and led by a church from Roanoke, Virginia.
The purpose behind this event, Dunfee said, is to expose students to different forms of worship that they may not be used to or accustomed to.
Dunfee said that many times people attend churches that worship in ways that they deem comfortable and normal, and Merge is supposed to stretch their horizons.
“God is a lot bigger than you think, and God speaks to people in a lot of different ways,” Dunfee said.
“He might not always be in you comfort zone so it’s really good for you to be exposed and to engage with those different pieces because you never know where God is going to lead you. You don’t want culture shock to get in the way of you being able to live out Christ to other people.”
Both Dixon and Dunfee also recommend that students watch Oscar-nominated movie “Hidden Figures,” which tells the untold story of several black women who contributed John Glenn reaching space and returning back to earth successfully.
The movie was nominated for three different Oscars, including Best Overall Picture and can currently be viewed in theaters.
Expanding students’ understanding of the cultures that influence Americans is a task that Dunfee said extends beyond Black History Month.
The Center4ME will also be celebrating Irish-American Heritage Month and Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which Dunfee encouraged students to get involved in even though they are not as well-known.
More information on Black History Month can be found on the Center4ME Facebook page, where they list all of their upcoming events, and students can find its office in the Montview Student Union, room 2500.