The month of February is Black History Month, and at Knox, that means a month of events put on by Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality. ABLE president and junior Dushawn Darling explained that the theme for this year’s Black History Month events revolved around community.
“This year we went back to our mission and why ABLE got started, so in my mind, and in the Exec Board’s mind, we felt like you can’t have a sense of structure if you don’t have a community base,” Darling explained.
ABLE usually hosts several big events aimed towards the student body as a whole, paired with smaller events throughout the month, some of which are aimed more towards ABLE club members. The biggest event this year is spoken word artist Frankie Soto, whose stage name is Hidden Legacy. Soto is Puerto Rican and focuses on issues of race in his performances. ABLE held auditions for Knox students to perform as opening acts for Soto earlier this month.
“Even though it’s Black History Month, the mission for ABLE is not just for African American students, it’s for everybody,” sophomore and ABLE secretary Catlin Watts explained.
ABLE is also holding special events during their biweekly meetings. On Feb. 2, they screened the movie “Glory,” an Academy Award-winning film about the first all-African American regiment in the Civil War. The film also tied into the community theme, as a group of soldiers in that regiment were from Galesburg. On Feb. 19, ABLE will be holding a discussion of the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida.
ABLE is pulling in community members to celebrate Black History Month as well, hosting children from the Galesburg Boys and Girls Club for a tour of the Seymour Library archives and having some Galesburg residents come to ABLE House to teach students how to cook on a budget.
“We want to show that even at a local standpoint we don’t have to spend too much money to do certain things,” Darling said.
As part of this emphasis on utilizing campus resources, ABLE is also bringing back their longstanding tradition of hosting conversations between faculty members and students, previously called “coffee talks” and recently renamed “fireside chats.” They have already hosted Assistant Director of Student Activities and Engagement Travis Greenlee and Professor of Chemistry Mary Crawford and will have Dan Jackson, the new assistant coach of the men’s basketball team, and Associate Dean of Students Laura Schnack, in upcoming chats.
“A big thing for me is that all of our fireside chat guests are not African American, so it’s also pulling in the fact that ABLE is not just for African American students and diversifying people’s thoughts about us,” Watts said.
Greenlee, the first fireside chat guest, began his position at Knox this year. He used the event as a chance to get to know more students.
“I knew a handful, and then there were definitely faces that I recognized, but it was nice to be able to put names to faces as well,” he said.
The fireside chats provide a forum in which students and faculty can get to know each other better and students can become more aware of their resources on campus, a goal of this year’s Black History Month.
“Every time we do an event we don’t have to go far and wide,” Darling said. “We can stay in Galesburg and we can stay on campus and get these resources right here.”