Black Student Union Celebrates the Start of Black History Month


On Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m., Colgate University’s Black Student Union celebrated the start of Black History Month with a meaningful conversation and viewing of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Conversations surrounding the meaning of Black History Month and reflections on culture, identity and history were at the core of dialogues following the screening.

Sophomore and interim co-president of the Black Student Union, Rhoman Elvis, comments on what he appreciates about Black culture.

“What I appreciate about Black culture is how versatile it is. I feel like [there are] so many different styles […] I just see it as a blueprint as well because so many people have taken inspiration from Black culture, and I think it’s just very nice that there’s no one set way to be Black,” Elvis said.

First-year representative of the Black Student Union, sophomore Clementina Aboagye, shares how her experience in the U.S. exposed her to the extent of the complexity of being Black, which extends far beyond physical appearance. Aboagye, who grew up in Ghana, West Africa, explains how in Ghana, all white people are portrayed as good, as saviors of the African population; this internalizes the superiority of the white population and creates internalized racism within the community. However, this is a stereotype that “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” subverts in portraying the greatness of Wakanda, where its entirely Black population is prosperous and self-sufficient without the imposition of white people. Aboagye emphasizes the powerful, revolutionary message this movie sends to the world.

“For the first ten years of my life, I never really thought of myself as Black […] I usually would identify as African. But ever since I came to the United States, I recognize that blackness isn’t just a phenotype […] there’s so much grounded in blackness. There’s so much culture and depth […] so much pain but so much fulfillment that comes out of being Black,” Aboagye said.

The “Black Panther” movie series seeks to promote the pride and appreciation for Black culture shared by these students using the power and influence of Hollywood to reach millions of people. The distinguishing aspects of how Black culture is portrayed in these films compared to other Black media are appreciated by sophomore Cullen Williams. 

“Blackness is portrayed not in relation to something else […] Wakanda is presented as its own thing, it is original and not in the context of some other culture […] and I think that’s really cool to see,” Williams said. 

“Black Panther” not only provides a representation of Black individuals in film, but it provides a representation of authentic Black culture and inspires awareness and appreciation for this culture worldwide. Junior and international student, Yalini Mohan Rajkumar, also acknowledges the ways in which Black Panther sets itself apart in the film industry. 

“’Black Panther’ brought Black culture to an international audience for people who’ve never experienced this or seen this before. I notice that in a lot of other types of media, Black culture is made very palatable for a general audience […] but in this case, it was very authentic and sincere.”

The “Black Panther” movies were viewed as revolutionary for the Black community. They are so much more than just another film in the Marvel Universe. The films challenge norms and empower members of the community to be proud of who they are and feel confident about what they can accomplish as Black individuals. 

The Black Student Union will continue to promote support and awareness for the Black community throughout Black History Month through a variety of events. A featured event, the BIPOC Formal, will take place on Feb. 24 at the Palace Theater. These events unite and empower Black students while providing opportunities for all students to support and learn more about the Black community in various ways, including through meaningful conversation and film.