By Joseph Horne:
Amarillo College will recognize Black History Month with a choir comprised of local residents and a catered luncheon on Feb. 15 on the first floor of the Ware Student Commons building.
In 1951, AC was the third school of higher education in Texas to admit African-American students, according to the book “Bones Hooks: Pioneer Negro Cowboy.” AC had 551 African-American students enrolled during the fall 2017 semester – 5.4 percent of the student population.
This year’s Black History Month event will concentrate on educating students and staff on the importance of diversity and creating open communication among different groups, according to Ruth De Anda, academic adviser. De Anda stressed that having a diverse AC staff decreases barriers to communication and helps the community’s students and parents from diverse backgrounds to open up to ask questions when enrolling at AC.
“The main goal of all the different diversity groups on campus is to educate, inform and improve communication among all groups of people,” Melodie Graves, diversity committee chair and advising associate, said. She also explained that recently more AC faculty from the East and West Campuses are giving students time to attend many of these events by letting their students out of class early.
“It’s important to recognize equal rights and the progression of American society,” Chris Devoy-McCann, a criminal justice major, said.
Many students noted the importance of recognizing Black History Month for the positive historical contributions of African-Americans. “Black History Month shows progression, but also highlights civil right issues that need to be improved,” Lluvia Rodriguez, a computer information science major, said.
AC has a history of African-American involvement and graduates who continue to contribute to the area including lawyer Robin Malone, board of regents member Patrick Miller, banking executive BJ Jones and Graves, who was the first African-American advising associate at AC.
Graves explained that in the future, she would like to see a professional trainer participate in AC Black History Month. She said she would like to have this trainer teach faculty and students how to communicate effectively with a diverse population.