By Caroline Gordon
Patricia Birch, director of Inclusive Excellence Initiatives, and Deron Hynes, an admissions counselor, hosted the Black History Month opening ceremony, a discussion on civil rights, and the leadership of Vice President Kamala Harris Feb. 10 via Zoom.
Hynes, an alumnus of FSU, read a speech about Black History Month.
He discussed how the “Black awakening of the 1960s” expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of Black history.
Hynes noted that President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to seize the opportunity and to honor the disregarded accomplishments of Black Americans in every area throughout human history.
“Blacks have carried the weight of this country on their back. My ancestors came here against their will and [accomplished] momentous feats that I hope to encapsulate in my family, community, and work. All of us here now, giving honor to many that have gone before us is astounding,” Hynes said.
He continued, “As we head into a new era, I wanted to admonish, be vigilant to what has, is, and will happen in our country.”
Birch discussed how nowadays, it is easier to mobilize information quickly because of social media. She said it is in our power to control history and “write it as it is.”
She said the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter Movement have enabled Vice President Harris to be in the position she is in today.
In regard to Harris being elected, Birch said, “I feel like a weight is lifted off me.”
She added, “I felt like I was lost in these last four years.”
Birch said that as Harris was elected vice president, Black Lives Matter exists on political grounds as well. She also said she recognizes how much pressure Harris is under as a major political figure and said she has high hopes for her.
Birch said she is also hopeful about President Joseph R. Biden and stated that he said he “would not forget the Black Americans.”
She said, “When I heard that, I thought, ‘Oh OK, I want to be invited to dinner!’”
Birch shared a quote from Harris, “Nothing that we have achieved has been about progress.”
She said Harris and a few senators initiated the HR7120, the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which is an approach to serve justice to police who are responsible for use of violence.
Birch wrapped up with a spoken word poem from Mia Ihegie, president of J.U.I.C.E. (Justice, Unity, Inclusion, Community, Equity).
“Us Black girls, we are always winning. We are the girls who stand tall and proud of our bold melanin standing out. The girls with full lips and wide hips that no one can resist. Our voices loud, but our afros louder. Come on Black girls, let’s stand together. As we walk together with our heads held high, with our heads wrapped, I swear we will survive. And take whatever the world throws at us because we can do what they do as long as we focus.”