“Black people have done a lot more than peanut butter and Martin Luther King,” said Weber State University student Lonald Wishom.
Wishom is the vice president for diversity and unity at WSU.
“It is important to celebrate black culture because it is such a big part of American history that people are not aware of,” Wishom said. “It is a painful part of our history, but it definitely shaped America. We only hear about Martin Luther King and maybe George Washington Carver and Peanuts.”
Wishom’s mother, Debra Wishom, graduated from college and then moved to northern California where Wishom grew up. His father, Lonald Wishom, worked as a cement mason for 40 years, and though he was not able to attend college himself, he wanted Lonald and his brother to get an education.
“I grew up understanding the importance of education,” Wishom said.
His grandmother, Mary Ellen Thornton, was the first in her family of seven children to go to high school. Her family sharecropped in Texas for a living. Wishom said they all worked hard just to get by. However, they were able to save enough money for her to go to school. Thornton later became a teacher and taught her family the importance of a good education.
Wishom, who is attending WSU on a football scholarship, said, “I am going to school so that I can do better. Everybody’s goal is to give their kids a little more than they got.”
He believes that it is important to celebrate all cultures. The Center for Diversity and Unity celebrated Hispanic culture in September, European heritage in October, Native American culture in November and Middle Eastern culture in January. February is a celebration of Black History Month.
Historian Carter G. Woodson began Black History Month as Negro History Week in 1926. His goal was to educate the American people about African-American history, focusing on African-Americans‘ cultural backgrounds and achievements.
President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
According to The Associated Press, famous author and poet Maya Angelou said, “The work of making our country more than it is today is unfinished. Our work remains, and we have to do the best we can do. The young people have a charge to keep, they have a responsibility.”
Students and advisers said they take this responsibility seriously.
“This month allows me to display my knowledge about my rich history of being a proud African-American woman and allows me to help create a better world,” said Asha Jones, Student-to-Student assistant coordinator at WSU. “Black History Month to me is a connecting point that brings healing and unity that can draw our nation closer together.”
There will be several activities this month celebrating Black History Month, including a voter registration drive and a celebration of Mardi Gras on Feb. 25.
For more information about events, students can visit the Center for Diversity and Unity in the Shepherd Union Building or text BSU to 469-579-2390.