96 years ago, historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) established the second week of February as “Negro History Week”. In the late 1960s, the week expanded into a month-long celebration of Black history and culture. in 2022, almost 80 years later, the annual celebration of Black History continues right here on campus! The Pan-African Student Alliance (P-ASA), Lighthouse: Black Girl Projects x Millsaps, and M.E.N (Male Empowerment Network) came together to celebrate and recognize Black excellence, leadership, and power through student participation and alumni.
The month started on a fun note as P-ASA hosted a skate night at Spinners and the second installment of the “Boo Series!” where panelists and participants gave relationship advice and shared their experiences to start a conversation! Students distributed wristbands with designated colors to represent relationship status: Red (attendee was in a committed relationship), Yellow (the attendee was unsure), and Green (the attendee was single). The Panelists included: Otis Kenner, Bri Blunt, Shane Cockrell, Sarah Hayek, Chris “Beans” Shead, and Elyssia Jones. Lorin Brown and Lydia Grizzell moderated the discussion. As expected, the panel was a big hit amongst all students! The fun did not stop after that, however. P-ASA students also enjoyed a movie night, and M.E.N hosted a game night as students prepared for Black Alumni Weekend!
The upcoming weeks before Black Alumni Weekend were busy for the students of P-ASA. The Black women of Lighthouse prepared a dance routine for the Black history program, Black alumni met their successors to the organization for the first time, and Black leaders began to decorate for the banquet with alumni. The theme “Black Hollywood” was chosen for this event. Black tablecloths, golden vases with beautiful white flower arrangements, and a red carpet leading to the Kava House decorated the Black Alumni Weekend Banquet. Alumni and students enjoyed a delicious dinner with each other as they enjoyed a performance by (in order of appearance) Elyssia Jones, Otis Kenner, and Meredith “Angel” Robinson. Black upcoming leaders, entrepreneurs, faculty, and alumni celebrated their efforts in the P-ASA organization and Black Millsaps community with an award ceremony. That night, almost like a tradition, the Black students of Millsaps enjoyed a family reunion-esque party with singing and dancing!
The celebration of Black History Month ended on the morning of February 27th with the Black History Program in the Christian Center Chapel. The program was opened by Khaylah Scott and Joshua Smith, with a spoken word performance by Mya Stewart and a Dance Ensemble performed by Aerial Thomas, Cynthia Emedurunwa, Kassidy Burrage, Bianca Jones, Candise McDonald, Dajuana Pace, Aastha Bangu, and Andrea Tall. The ceremony was then closed by Lydia Nicole presenting keynote speaker Councilwoman Angelique Lee and closing remarks by Walter Johnson.
Lorin Brown, president of P-ASA, expressed how the weekend was “filled with happiness, love, and enjoyment.” She continued to say that it was “[s]o great to see so many people for the event and I am grateful to everyone who participated and took part in the events and programs for Black History Month. Everyone who helped P-ASA and supports us through Black Alumni Weekend; I am forever grateful, and my heart goes out to P-ASA and all the other Black organizations!”