Celebrating Black History Month at HCC | Connecting Point | Feb. 13, 2020


>>>HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN FEBRUARY WITH EVENTS BOTH ON
AND OFF CAMPUS. THIS IS THE FIRST YEAR THE
COLLEGE ESTABLISHED A COMMITTEE TO PLAN ITS EVENTS, WHICH
ORGANIZERS SAY ARE AN EXTENSION OF TEACHINGS IN CLASSROOMS
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. CARRIE SALDO SAT DOWN WITH BLACK
HISTORY MONTH COMMITTEE MEMBERS LEAH OCALINI AND MONIQUE NELL ON
THE TO FIND OUT MORE.>>I THINK BLACK HISTORY IS
AMERICAN HISTORY, AND I NOW THINK IT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAN
EVER TO CELEBRATE THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, AND HAVE SOME
EVENTS THAT CELEBRATE EVERYTHING IN BLACK CULTURE.>>AS I UNDERSTAND IT, IT’S THE
FIRST YEAR THAT H.C.C. HAS HAD
THIS COMMITTEE. WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT IT, DID YOU
THINK YES I WANT TO PARTICIPATE ABSOLUTELY?>>YES. SO, I’VE BEEN AT H.C.C. A LITTLE
LESS THAN A YEAR, AND PART OF MIFF ROLE AS CHIEF CULTURE
OFFICER IS TRYING TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER AND MAKE SURE
THE CAMPUS IS FOCUSING ON OUR VALUES. SO INNOVATION, COLLABORATION,
KINDNESS, INCLUSION AND TRUST. AND SO WHEN THINKING ABOUT HOW
TO BE A MORE INCLUSIVE CAMPUS, THE IDEA FOR THESE COMMITTEES
CAME UP. AND THERE HAVE BEEN EVENTS IN
THE PAST FOR BLACK HISTORY MOMENT, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST
TIME IN A WHILE THAT THERE’S BEEN A MORE CONCERTED EFFORT TO
REALLY THINK ABOUT PROGRAMMING TO MAKE SURE IT’S A ROBUST
PROGRAMMING THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE MONTH.>>IT’S A FULL MONTH’S WORTH OF
EVENTS. WE’LL GO THROUGH A FEW, BUT I
WANT TO TALK ABOUT ONE THAT’S ALREADY GONE PAST, IT WAS A TED
TALK. AND I MENTION IT BECAUSE PEOPLE
CAN WATCH IT ONLINE IF THEY WANT TO, IT WAS CALLED THE UNTAPPED
GENIUS THAT COULD CHANGE SCIENCE FOR THE BETTER. AND REALLY IN THE VIDEO, THERE’S
THIS TALK OF INTERSECTIONS, THE IDEA OF INTERSECTIONS AND HOW
THEY UPLIFT AND EN LIVEN, SOMETIMES CHALLENGE OUR LIVES. WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU SAW
THE VIDEO, WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM IT?>>I THOUGHT IT WAS A VERY
IMPORTANT TOPIC, ESPECIALLY IN THE CONTEXT THAT SHE WAS
DISCUSSING WHEN IT COMES TO SCIENCE. BECAUSE THINGS ARE CREATED
DIFFERENTLY OR IMPROVED IF YOU HAVE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. SO AS A WOMAN AND AS A BLACK
PERSON, YOU KNOW, YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS ARE GOING TO BE
VERY SPECIFIC TO YOUR EXPERIENCES. SO I FEEL LIKE IT WAS A VERY
ENLIGHTENING AND IMPORTANT TALK TO HAVE.>>AND EACH OF YOU GOT TO SIT
THERE FOR THE SCREENING. DID PEOPLE TALK ABOUT IT
AFTERWARD, WAS THERE ANY REACTION TO THE VIDEO?>>YES. THERE WAS A LOT OF POSITIVE
REACTION. AND ADRIANNE SMITH, OUR INTERN
DEAN OF STEM AT HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, SHE LED A
DISCUSSION AFTERWARDS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERSITY IN STEM,
SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN OF COLOR IN
STEM AS WELL. THEN SHE SPOKE ABOUT HER OWN
EXPERIENCES AND WHAT SHE, HOW SHE REALLY GOT INTO MATHEMATICS,
ENGINEERING AND THE PEOPLE WHO HELPED HER FIND HER PASSION FOR
THAT ALONG THE WAY. SO IT WAS A REALLY INTERESTING
DISCUSSION THAT WE HAD AFTERWARDS.>>AND WE TALK ABOUT STEM ON THE
PROGRAM A LOT, BUT FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW, SKY ENDS,
TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH, AND AREAS THAT WE KNOW
THAT WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE IN THE MINORITY IN THAT
FIELD IN PARTICULAR.>>YES. IT’S STILL A HEAVILY MALE
DOMINATED SPACE. SO THE TED TALK WAS FOCUSING NOT
ONLY ON THE IMPORTANCE BUT ON THE GENIUS THAT WOMEN OF COLOR
HAVE BROUGHT TO THE STEM FIELD. SO IN THE LARGER CONTEXT OF
BLACK HISTORY MONTH, AND REALLY HIGHLIGHTING POSITIVE
CONTRIBUTIONS THAT BLACK PEOPLE HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO AMERICAN
SOCIETY. IT REALLY TIED IT ALTOGETHER, IN
A WONDERFUL WAY.>>ANOTHER EVENT THAT’S COMING
UP ON THE 13TH, SMITH COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART WILL BE OPENING
ITS DOORS TO H.C.C. FACULTY AND
STAFF SO THAT PEOPLE CAN TAKE A LOOK AT AN EXHIBIT THERE CALLED
BLACK REFRACTIONS, HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STUDIO MUSEUM IN
HARLEM. SO WHY DID THE COMMITTEE WANT TO
OFFER THAT OPPORTUNITY? YOU’RE HEADING OFF CAMPUS TO
THIS ART MUSEUM.>>RIGHT. I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO
PARTNER WITH AREA INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE ALSO HAVING
CELEBRATIONS OF BLACK HISTORY. AND IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR
STUDENTS, IT’S ALSO FACULTY, STAFF AND STUDENTS TO BE ABLE TO
GO OFF CAMPUS AND FOR OUR STUDENTS ESPECIALLY WHO MIGHT BE
THINKING OF TRANSFERRING TO SMITH, THEY CAN GET THAT
EXPERIENCE OF BEING ON THAT CAMPUS ALSO. AND EXPERIENCING THE EXHIBIT.>>ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?>>RIGHT, AND IT’S IMPORTANT,
SMITH COLLEGE HAS SUCH A WONDERFUL SPACE IN THEIR MUSEUM
OF ART, THAT I JUST THINK IT’S A GREAT WAY OF, WE MIGHT NOT BE
ABLE TO HAVE THAT EXHIBIT BUT WE CAN CERTAINLY ENCOURAGE OUR
FACULTY, STAFF AND STUDENTS TO BE ABLE TO ATTEND. AND THIS PARTNERSHIP WITH SMITH
COLLEGE HAS BEEN REALLY WONDERFUL. STUDENTS CAN ALWAYS GET INTO THE
SMITH COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART FOR FREE WITH A STUDENT I.D., BUT
THEY’RE ALSO ALLOWING FACULTY AND STAFF WITH A COLLEGE I.D. TO
GET IN FOR FREE FOR US AS WELL. SO THEY’RE REALLY MAKING IT
ACCESSIBLE AND REACHING OUT TO US AS WELL.>>LATER IN THE MONTH YOU’LL BE
SCREENING A SHIRLEY CHISHOLM DOCUMENTARY WITH AN AMAZING
TITLE, UNBOUGHT AND UNBOSSED. OF COURSE SHE WAS THE FIRST
BLACK WOMAN ELECTED TO CONGRESS, SHE RAN FOR PRESIDENT, WAS
UNSUCCESSFUL. SHE ALSO SPOKE AT H.C.C. IN THE
80’S AT A COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS, SO A RAE STRONG CONNECTION THERE
TO H.C.C.>>ONCE WE FOUND OUT THAT SHE
DID THE COMMENCEMENT SPEECH IN 1984, IT WAS KIND OF A NO
BRAINER, IT’S LIKE WHAT AN AWESOME CONNECTION. AND I THINK A LOT OF WHAT SHE
SPOKE ABOUT IN THE DOCUMENTARY AND WHAT SHE STRUGGLED THROUGH
AT THE TIME IS STILL RELEVANT TODAY, AND GIVEN THAT IT’S AN
ELECTION YEAR I FEEL LIKE IT’S A REALLY IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO
EDUCATE SOME OF OUR STUDENTS WHO MAY NOT HAVE HEARD OF SHIRLEY
CHISHOLM BEFORE TO GET THIS OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT
SOMEONE WHO IS NOT THAT POPULAR IN BLACK HISTORY, LIKE MARTIN
LUTHER KING OR MALCOLM X, AND SHE’S A WOMAN WHICH IS, HEY,
GIRL POWER.>>WAS IT SOMETHING THAT, HOW
DID THE COMMUNITY FIND OUT THAT SHE HAD GIVEN THE COMMENCEMENT
ADDRESS? WAS IT SOMETHING THAT A FEW
COMMITTEE MEMBERS KNEW OR WAS IT SOMETHING THAT YOU UNCOVERED AS
YOU WERE LOOKING AT POTENTIAL IDEAS FOR THE PROGRAM?>>IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, I
BELIEVE OUR MARKETING DEPARTMENT WORKING WITH THE LIBRARY AND THE
ARCHIVES WERE ABLE TO FIND THAT, AND THEY ALSO FOUND EXCERPTS OF
HER SPEECH, SOME VIDEO, AND SOME PICTURES FROM THE DAY AS WELL. SO WE’LL BE TYING THAT IN TO THE
DOCUMENTARY SCREENING AS WELL. IT’S REALLY BRINGING LIGHT TO
THE LIFE OF THIS AMAZING WOMAN, BUT ALSO HIGHLIGHTING HER
CONNECTION TO HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE.>>AT THE OUTSET OF OUR CHAT YOU
MENTIONED BLACK HISTORY IS AMERICAN HISTORY. IF WE THINK ABOUT CELEBRATING
BLACK HISTORY MONTH OR WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, I THINK YOU CAN
LOOK AT IT IN TWO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES THAT IT’S SAD THAT
WE HAVE TO SEPARATE THIS OUT IN ORDER TO ELEVATE AND CELEBRATE
IT, BUT THEN ALSO IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ELEVATE AND
CELEBRATE. WHERE DO YOU FALL ON THAT ISSUE?>>I THINK IT WOULD BE AMAZING
FOR US TO COME TO A POINT WHERE IT’S NOT NECESSARILY TO
HIGHLIGHT THESE MONTHS TO CELEBRATE BLACK HERITAGE OR
WOMEN’S HISTORY. EVENTUALLY I WOULD HOPE THAT IT
WOULD JUST BE A NORMAL PART OF THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND
EVERYONE WILL BE LEARNING ABOUT BLACK HISTORY. BUT FOR NOW IT’S IMPORTANT TO
HAVE THAT CELEBRATION AND, YOU KNOW, THERE HAVE BEEN SOME
AWESOME CONTRIBUTIONS BY BLACK FOLKS IN THIS COUNTRY. SO I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT, AND
IT’S FUN, AND WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A FOOD FEST AT THE END OF
THE MONTH TO CLOSE IT ALL OUT. AND THE PROCEEDS FROM THAT WILL
GO TO, A FINANCIAL AWARD FOR A STUDENT WHO IS A MEMBER OF THE
BLACK STUDENT ALLIANCE.>>IT IS A $5 DONATION, RIGHT? STUDENTS CAN CHOW DOWN FOR FREE
IF THEY WANT, BUT YOU CAN ALSO MAKE THAT DONATION.>>YES. WE WANT IT TO BE AS OPEN AND
ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE. SO THE WAY WE DESIGNED IT WAS
THAT THE FOOD WILL BE FREE AT THE EVENT. SO EVERYONE CAN COME, EAT,
LEARN, AND PARTICIPATE AND NOT HAVE TO PAY MONEY. BUT IF THEY’D LIKE TO DONATE, IT
GOES TO THIS AWARD FOR A BLACK STUDENT ALLIANCE.>>AND YOU CAN FIND INFORMATION
ABOUT H.C.C.’S BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS ONLINE AT HCC.EDU.

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