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Black History Month event raises awareness of African subcultures

An African student participates on a panel for "What's the Difference?: African Edition," a Black History Month event at Liberty University.

More than 90 Liberty University students, faculty and staff, including several international students, came together Tuesday night for a panel discussion titled “What’s the Difference?: African Edition.” The discussion, one of the final events planned for Black History Month at Liberty, provided students a unique opportunity to learn about Africa, the second largest continent in the world with more than 50 countries – each with its own language, culture and ethnic groups.

Dr. Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, Associate Professor of English and the founder and advisor to Liberty's Association of Association of Students of African Descent, participates in the discussion on African subcultures.

Liberty’s Center for Multicultural Enrichment (Center4ME) partnered with the Association of Students of African Descent club at Liberty to host the event. A panel of international students represented the African countries of Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia, sharing facts about the culture, geography and history of her home country.

“I think students became aware of more of the positive characteristics of the continent of Africa,” said event coordinator Daveta Saunders, associate director of the Center4ME. She noted that one student told her the discussion broadened her understanding of Africa because when she thought of the country, she only thought of AIDS and poverty, based on what she had seen in the media and heard from missionaries.

The Center4ME hosts a variety of events to celebrate Black History Month on campus, including dialogues with featured speakers, group discussions, Black Student Initiative meetings, an “open mic” session, cinema nights, a Harlem Renaissance-themed event and a special worship service

“It is important for Liberty University to honor Black History Month, not only because it is a national celebration, but more importantly because, simply put, it is American history,” said Center4ME director Melany Pearl.

While the Harlem Renaissance event drew the largest crowd, a lecture on the life of the Rev. John Jasper, one of Virginia’s most celebrated African American preachers, drew the most diversified crowd, Pearl said, with professors, residential and online students, and Lynchburg residents ranging in age from 17 to the 70s.

“Black History Month was a success in that we provided opportunities for learning and development that happened outside of the classroom,” said Pearl. “As a student affairs co-curricular department, I am pleased that hundreds of students participated throughout the month.”


  • Tuesday’s panel discussion was part of The EQUALITY (Esteeming, Qualifying, Understanding, Awareness, Listening, Inclusiveness, Trusting) Factor Movement outreach program designed by the Center4ME to educate students about promoting and maintaining an appreciation for multiculturalism on campus. The program also hosts Brown Bag Round Table Discussions, an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to discuss current issues that relate to culture within the U.S. and internationally. There are also four more panel discussions for this semester, with topics ranging from ”What’s the Difference?: Asian-Pacific-Islander Edition,” "Does Race Really Matter?", "Should there be a Caucasian History Month?", and "Media and Cultural Stereotypes." For more information, visit the Center4ME website.


Click here for a complete calendar of Black History Month events at Liberty University.