Black History Month at McMaster begins with infectious beats and optimism
BlackSpace was one of many student groups that had tables, keepsakes and information for the community at the BHM at Mac launch. (Photos by Georgia Kirkos, McMaster University)
Students were moving. People at La Piazza were grooving. Everybody caught the beat in MUSC Thursday afternoon when two student dance groups took over the atrium.
The MACaws (McMaster Caribbean and West Indian Students) and MacAfricans dancers were part of a full-day lineup of performances to celebrate the beginning of Black History Month at McMaster.
Organized by the BHM at McMaster committee led by the Equity and Inclusion Office, the event featured local Black-owned business vendors, tables for campus groups and programs, plus live music, poetry and dance performances.
Vice-Provost of Equity and Inclusion Barrington Walker spoke of the many opportunities for reflection BHM creates, in addition to the chance to reflect on the accomplishments and contributions of Black people.
It’s also a time to think about the relationships between Black peoples and Canada as a settler colonial nation and all that that entails, he said; to reflect on the number of waves and groups of Black peoples who arrived in Canada at different times in history, and subsequent changes in sometimes racist immigration policies that affected Black populations here.
“You might also think about what is at stake in the shift that has taken place in some quarters from Black History Month to Black Futures Month,” Walker said, “which is a renewed emphasis on the themes of Black thriving, joy, possibility, agency and futurities.”
In his remarks to open the event, President David Farrar spoke of the progress McMaster has made in improving the experiences of Black community members and removing barriers to success, as well as how much more needs to be done.
“Whether it’s through your research or scholarship, advocacy or community engagement or civic leadership, many Black faculty, staff and students at McMaster are making a transformational impact on our campus, our country and our world,” Farrar said.
Over the course of this month “we’ll have the opportunity to learn about the legacy and accomplishments of Black Canadians who’ve played an integral and often unacknowledged role in Canada’s past,” he said. “And we’ll be able to celebrate the many outstanding Black Canadians whose talent, creativity and dedication are helping to create Canada’s future.”
Here are some more highlights of the event: