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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

What’s The Consensus?

The+African+Dance+Session+from+2020.+Due+to+COVID-19%2C+this+event+had+to+be+moved+to+zoom+this+year%2C+but+the+impacts+were+still+felt.+Photo+courtesy+of+Mark+Olencki.
The African Dance Session from 2020. Due to COVID-19, this event had to be moved to zoom this year, but the impacts were still felt. Photo courtesy of Mark Olencki.

Wofford MLK Day and Black History Month then and now

With the events of the Black Lives Matter protests and the surfacing of many stories on @blackatwofford over summer 2020, Wofford College dedicated itself to assuring that students had equal treatment, regardless of race. One of the biggest tests of this devotion is through the events hosted throughout Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month. 

After reaching out to students and faculty about how they might describe the relationship between last year’s and this year’s events, there were many people who supported the shift and found a definite improvement. Others felt that the shifts in the past year relating to COVID-19 and general social justice movements left a notable lack of ambition.

Taifha Alexander, assistant dean of students for diversity and leadership development, said, “In analyzing the state of the nation, and most importantly, the state of the campus, the MLK Planning Committee wanted all of our events to demonstrate that we all need to approach antiracist work, practice and pedagogy with the same fervor and commitment that was expressed this summer, or keep that same energy…”

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Of course, with COVID-19 being rampant, there were obvious changes to the way in which these events were held, with everything being virtual this year in regard to the celebrations. However, as Alexander pointed out, this allowed for even more events, a keynote speaker, and the ability to stretch the celebrations of MLK Day to a two-week period. 

Olivia Free ‘22 also noted that there was much difference in the way in which she engaged with the Black History Month and MLK Day events, due to the online format. She said that an event in the Spartanburg community that is usually held in the Memorial Auditorium was on Zoom this year, and she did not feel as connected and admitted to multitasking during the event

Relating to COVID-19 and social justice fatigue, the theme of these events was “Keeping the Same Energy,” which many Black History Month planning committee members felt was achieved through the committee but not Wofford as a whole. 

Solana Rostick ’23, said that a large focus this year with the events was with battling this fatigue that the Wofford community struggled with, and she hopes that the events and impact will be impactful and long-lasting, showcasing “the importance of being an effective ally not just during Black History Month, but continuing to support us every day.” 

Of course, the events are helpful aids to learning how to be an ally, what systemic racism is, etc., but it means nothing unless students are willing to participate.

Jeanae Escobar ’24 said, “the issue is that not many people want to learn. Wofford as a whole tends to not promote events like these and show much interest in them in the first place. They brush it off, just as they brush off @blackatwofford and other issues that students have been bringing light to for months now.” 

When asking students about their experiences with last year’s Black History Month projects and events compared to this year, there seemed to be much more knowledge and accessibility to events this year. Many students, even ones who were on the planning committee for events this year, like Rostick, do not even remember attending events last year.

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Brandi Wylie, Editor-In-Chief
Education Major from Spartanburg, SC
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