Black History Month Activities Focus on Education, Service to Community
By Renee Pearman
Dr. Myra Jackson, associate vice
president for minority student achievement at MSC delivers
donated clothing to Memorial Nursing Home in Macon.
by Craig Jackson
Macon State students have listened to novelist Tina McElroy Ansa
read from her current bestseller and Nikki Giovanni recite her award-winning
poetry. They have learned about the songs and stories passed down
through the centuries by those living on Georgia's coastal isles
and about African-American artisans' uncredited contributions to
They have watched performance artist Anna M. Johnson-Webb bring
to life historical figures Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. They
have discovered the art of Wilfred Stroud and Eddie Granderson and
the voices of soprano Anna Neal and bass-baritone Oral Moses. They
have been introduced to all styles of music, from anthems and spirituals
to jazz, classical and opera.
All of these opportunities were presented over the years by the
College's Black History Month Committee, with support from the MSC
Black Student Unification/Minority Advising and Achievement Program.
"At Macon State, we want to use Black History Month to celebrate
our diversity and to spotlight multicultural education," said
Mary Mears, associate professor of English and reading in the Division
of Learning Support and 2002-03 chair of the MSC Black History Month
In 1926, Harvard graduate Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who was the son
of former slaves, introduced the idea of Negro History Week in an
attempt to bring national attention to the contributions of African-Americans.
Woodson chose the second week of February because it marks the birthdays
of two men he believed significantly impacted the lives of American
blacks: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Fifty years later,
Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month.
"Our Black History Month activities are designed to educate
all of us so that we can learn to coexist in a better informed,
more inclusive society," Mears said.
The Black History Month Committee develops a theme for each year's
observance, then schedules an assortment of events. "We encourage
faculty to bring their classes, we open these events to the public,
and we invite local school children," Mears said. "We
try to schedule morning and evening events that will reach all of
our students, and we try to offer a variety of activities. In the
past, our guests have included dancers, artists, writers, historians,
singers, musicians, genealogists and sculptors."
Funding for Black History Month events has come from the Macon
State College Artists & Lecturers Series Committee, the Black
Student Unification/Minority Advising & Achievement Program,
the MSC Faculty Development Committee, the MSC Foundation, the Georgia
Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities,
as well as appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.
While Black History Month events focus on education, MLK Day at
Macon State incorporates community service in keeping with Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.'s belief that "all of us can be great because
everyone can serve."
Dr. Myra Jackson, associate vice president for Minority Student
Achievement, has organized MLK Day campus events for the past several
A psychology professor, Jackson encourages all students to give
back to their communities by sharing their time and talents. She
shares this message with students in her classroom and with the
student members of the Black Student Unification/Minority Advising
and Achievement Program at Macon State, for which she is the faculty
"I remind our students of the words of Coretta Scott King:
'The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people
of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing
individual acts of kindness through service to others,' " she
"Working with a diverse group of student volunteers who are
committed to making a difference in the lives of others has been
our mission this year."
Through the efforts of Jackson and MSC Admissions representative
Craig Jackson, the college has received two federally funded grants
from the Corporation for National and Community Service that have
allowed MSC students to coordinate and participate in such projects
- Collecting and delivering donated clothing to area nursing homes;
- Developing a character camp for at-risk students in Bibb County
- Delivering donated clothing and books to the Carl Vinson Veterans
Administration Medical Center in Dublin;
- Collecting more than 1,000 food items for the Macon Rescue Mission;
- Working with the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department to distribute
and install smoke detectors in area residences.
The 2002 MLK Day celebration included a morning of dance and musical
performances blended with guest speakers, among them the Rev. Derek
Dumas who gave a moving rendition of King's "I Have A Dream"
speech, but the community service projects, Jackson said, will continue
through the academic year.