by Alexis Barton
February marks the start of Black History Month, a time where our entire community can come together to honor the contributions and legacies of the Black community. On campus, the Black Student Alliance in coordination with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the RC Center for Studying the Structures of Race, and several other offices are preparing for a month full of educational and advocacy-driven programming.
Two nationally-renowned speakers will make an appearance on campus this month to kick off this programming. Brandon P. Fleming, an author, debate coach, and founder of the Harvard Diversity Project, came to campus on February 9th to talk to students about the role of miseducation in the context of Black History Month. Fleming’s talk revolved around unpacking ideas that have been taught on a societal level that are damaging and counterproductive in regard to the role of Black history in our larger cultural history. Alysha Butler, a nationally recognized educator and scholar from Washington, D.C. will speak on campus later this month, addressing the importance of Black history’s role in school curriculum. Mrs. Butler’s address will take place on February 21st at 7 p.m. in the Bast Gymnasium.
To close out the month, two events will honor the contributions of enslaved laborers who helped to build Roanoke’s campus and the first full-time Black student at Roanoke College, Maxine Fitzgerald. A candlelight ceremony will be held to honor the enslaved laborers who built many of the original buildings on campus, and a memorial service will be held to honor the life of Maxine Fitzgerald. Both events will take place on Sunday, February 27th. Each event serves a unique role in the history of the College, as the community mourns the recent death of Fitzgerald and as our community is becoming more cognizant of the role that enslaved laborers played in the foundation of our campus. For more information about these events, stay up to date on roanoke.edu/inside and follow the Black Student Alliance on Instagram, @rc_bsa.