John Jay Celebrates Black History Month

John Jay Celebrates Black History Month

John Jay Celebrates Black History Month

John Jay College is proud to celebrate Black History Month with a roster of events dedicated to highlighting the many achievements and contributions African-Americans have made to this country. As a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Minority Serving Institution (MSI), the College recognizes the month of February as a time to honor our rich, expansive, and ever-growing African-American history, proudly acknowledging the many African-Americans who tirelessly fought for equality. During the month of February, there are several John Jay events planned to celebrate Black History Month that everyone can participate in and enjoy. To get in the spirit of the month, we spoke to several John Jay students and asked them, what does Black History Month mean to you?

Quardear HarrisQuardear Harris
Senior
Hometown: New York City

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a time to celebrate my heritage, connect with my identity and be knowledgeable about where I come from and who I am as an African-American male. As a person of color, and for minorities in general, there is not enough education centered around our history. It's not taught enough in school, and that's something that needs to change so that children are more connected with their identity and with who they are. Schools tend to teach what the textbooks say, and the textbook information is not always correct. Then, children go to college and have to pay to learn about their own history. You shouldn't have to pay to learn about your history. You should be able to learn about it as you grow up and then go to college to further advance that knowledge. 

“Diversity is a beautiful thing, and the conversation about diversity and inclusion needs to continue.”—Quardear Harris

If you could choose one person that we recognize during Black History Month, who would it be, and what would you say to them?
I'm going to say Rosa Parks, and I would thank her for what she did. Because of her bus boycott, every time that I take public transportation, I remember that it's important for me not to sit in the back. She fought for our right to sit in the front of the bus next to our white counterparts. Sometimes, when I'm on public transportation and a white person speaks to me, I know that the conversations we’re having was made possible because of Rosa Parks. Diversity is a beautiful thing, and the conversation about diversity and inclusion needs to continue. 

Heema KisnasamyHeema Kisnasamy 
Freshman
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York 

What does Black History Month mean to you?
It means celebrating the freedoms that we have gained, and acknowledging the ways in which we attained those freedoms. It’s important for the United States to recognize this because though legally we are free, socially we are not. The celebration of Black History Month should stand as a reminder that freedom, and the fight for freedom, is still important today. 

If you could choose one person that we recognize during Black History Month, who would it be, and what would you say to them?
I would choose Harriet Tubman. Everything she did with the Underground Railroad was impressive. She broke the rules for us to gain better rules that are inclusive of all races. If she were here, I would thank her for helping to eliminate the ignorance that people had, and for uniting African-Americans. She put her life on the line for this, and if no one would have done that, the country wouldn't be where it is at today. 

Elodie OrientalElodie Oriental
Sophomore
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means culture, Africa, heritage, strength, and power to all races. We are all from Africa, so celebrating our black heritage and where we come from is important. We have to give recognition to the African-Americans who have paved the way for us to be free today. 

“We are all from Africa, so celebrating our black heritage and where we come from is important. We have to give recognition to the African-Americans who have paved the way for us to be free today.”—Elodie Oriental 

What recent African-American achievement gives you hope and inspiration for the future?
The success of the movie Black Panther*, gives me hope. Usually, movies are primarily made with white actors, and those are the ones that are successful and make a lot of money. But this movie was successful, and still is to this day. The black actors and actresses are getting awards for their roles in it.

 

*In honor of Black History Month, free screenings of Black Panther will be available at 250 participating AMC theaters nationwide February 1-7.

Esteisy SeijasEsteisy Seijas
Junior
Hometown: Queens, New York

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a time to celebrate the inventions and the culture African-Americans have contributed to this country.

“I just re-watched Hidden Figures, and it was impressive that Dorothy [Vaughan] took the responsibility to teach the women that worked with her, so that they could continue to have a job and be part of history.”—Esteisy Seijas

If you could choose one person that we recognize during Black History Month, who would it be, and what would you say to them?
I would choose Dorothy Vaughan. I just re-watched Hidden Figures, and it was impressive that Dorothy took the responsibility to teach the women that worked with her, so that they could continue to have a job and be part of history. I want to be a teacher and the focus on education is important to me. Dorothy took it upon herself to bring about education when the opportunity wasn’t given to them. Even though there were many obstacles, she educated herself first, and then continued to educate others for the sake of the history of our country. I can honestly say, that if I could be half the women she is, I would gladly live the rest of my life out happy. 

Ikbal BakshaIkbal Baksha
Junior
Hometown: Bangladesh 

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means appreciating the efforts African-Americans made so that we can have equality.

If you could choose one person that we recognize during Black History Month, who would it be, and what would you say to them?

I would choose Martin Luther King Jr. because he helped remove the barrier between races. He saw everyone as equal and wanted everyone to be treated the same. His efforts have helped me to be treated fairly. People are people and we should treat each other equally.

Magdalene OmaboeMagdalene Omaboe
Freshman
Hometown: Queens, New York

What does Black History Month mean to you?
My parents are from Africa. When I was in elementary school, I was told that I wasn't black enough because I didn't understand certain references. I used to be okay with not understanding the references, but that didn’t mean that I was not black. I am black, and we're all from Africa. Someone can't tell me that I'm not something, when I know I am. I am black and proud, that’s what Black History Month is all about. 

If you could choose one person that we recognize during Black History Month, who would it be, and what would you say to them? 
I would choose Coretta Scott King and I would tell her how much she empowered me. I recently read her book about the way she fought during the civil rights movement, and advocated for all people.

Lizairys SanchezLizairys Sanchez
Freshman 
Hometown: Bronx, New York

What does Black History Month mean to you?
It's a month to recognize the great achievements that black people have accomplished throughout the years, specifically with how far we have come from discrimination and racism. It’s important because you have to acknowledge what has been done throughout history to move towards a better future.

“You have to acknowledge what has been done throughout history to move towards a better future.”—Lizairys Sanchez

If you could choose one person that we recognize during Black History Month, who would it be, and what would you say to them? 
I would say Rosa Parks, because she was brave in standing up for herself and saying no. The fact that she was a black woman doing this is very inspiring and powerful. If Rosa Parks were here today, I would ask her what made her reach her breaking point to say, I don't want to be discriminated against anymore, and I want to be equal.

Alex MorgeseAlex Morgese
Junior
Hometown: Rockland County                                   

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is an important time to recognize and bring to light the progress that has been made by African-Americans—especially at a diverse college like John Jay. 

If you had to choose one person that we recognize during Black History Month, who would it be, and what would you say to them?
I would choose LeBron James. He came from nothing and now he's one of the top names in the world. If he were standing in front of me, I would ask him what it means to be a role model to others.

Learn more about our John Jay’s Black History Month Events