CTC celebrates Black History Month
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Central Texas College Oveta Culp Hobby Library held an event focusing on African Americans and the Vote in honor of Black History Month Wednesday afternoon.
The event featured a voter registration table where a voter registrar deputy was on hand to register people to vote.
The event was the brainchild of Central Texas College Outreach Librarian Cindy Oser.
“The reason why we decided to do this program is because it is so vital that everyone- African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans,” Oser said. “Everyone has representation. We also wanted to make sure that this was a celebration- a celebration of life, a celebration of everyone who matters. We want, at CTC, for you guys to realize that you matter and wherever you’re coming from, whatever you’re going, you matter.”
Members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., a historically black Greek-lettered sorority, kicked off the program by showing off their stepping and strolling skills. The sorority is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year and had a display case towards the front entrance of the library.
Several students from Professor Dianna Ramos’ class put on a fashion show, featuring African, Haitian and Caribbean garb. The students hailed from African countries Benin, Togo, Cameroon and Caribbean countries such as Belize and Haiti. Following the fashion show, Ramos led her students and audience members in a brief African dance lesson.
Four students from Killeen Independent School District’s Early College High School who were part of the Black Student Association served on a Question and Answer panel. Robyn Wilson, Richard Rogers, Jaida Holley and Tameronlyn Patterson answered questions about young African Americans and voter turnout in 2020 as well as different issues such whether the minimum wage should be increased, the price of college tuition, student loan debt, and healthcare. Central Texas College Director of Instructional Development Billy Woodson moderated the panel.
After the panel, members of the Central Texas Writers Society shared their poems in a Poetry Slam. Forressa Harrison shared a poem she wrote from the viewpoint of woman slave, called “Promise to No One”.
Following the Poetry Slam, others had the opportunity to share their own poetry or message in the Open Mic portion of the event. Harrison closed out the event with two more poems called “The God They Gave Us” and “Baby Brother”, which were about the religion and God forced on slaves in the South and about Harrison’s fears for her brother, who is an adult African American man.
Harrison said she found out about the library’s event after being contacted by Oser to come read her poetry.
“My first poem, ‘Promise to No One’- the things that we didn’t have as black people that we do have no, and we still have a long way to go, unbelievably so, that we’re still fighting for equality, that we’re still fighting for justice, that we’re still saying ‘Hands-up, don’t shoot.’ That we’re still saying the same things that we said so many years ago,” Harrison said about her inspiration for her poems. “It’s almost preposterous that we’re still having the same conversations that my mama was having, you know, my grandma was having. It’s heartbreaking that those are still conversations today, but they are, so the poems come from that. They’re rooted in that pain. I write to heal.”
Harrison added that there are things happening all the time that just seem to be drastically unfair for black people versus white people. She referred to the situation where a white woman, Lori Vallow, and her new husband, Chad Daybell, have ignored a court order to produce her missing children, 7-year-old “JJ” Vallow, and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan to child welfare workers. The two children have been missing since September. Vallow was given a deadline of Jan. 30 to physically produce the children or she would be held in contempt of court. Harrison said the news around that situation would have a completely different tone if it were a black mother.
“The reason these programs are important and the reason it’s important to see all different races at these types of programs is you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge,” Harrison said. “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. The problem of racism is something that black people can talk about, it’s something that black people can do poems about. We can write books about it, but we need white people’s help to fix it. White people and black people have to work together to fix racism. It can’t be done with one race. We can’t fix it- if we could, we’d have fixed it already.”
Harrison said she thought the fact that CTC offered the program was awesome.
“It’s nice to see schools doing this, and I see schools doing it more and more, and I’m touched by that,” Harrison said. “I’m impressed by that. I want to see that happen more. I want more schools to join. I want there to be white people just as interested in black history as black people are, because it is our history.”