A Look Back at SMC’s Black History Month Events
Spartanburg Methodist College proudly serves a diverse student body. Each February, our campus community participates in special Black History Month events to honor the history and significance of Black leaders, visionaries, and change agents in our nation.
Throughout Black History Month, the SMC Experience team, which leads the College’s student and career development program, hosted several events providing knowledge and insight into the Black experience, career mentorship, and celebrating Black history and culture.
On February 9, SMC partnered with Speaking Down Barriers, a local collaboration focused on equality and unity, to present “American History, Centering Black People.” The presentation at SMC featured a discussion on knowing the impact of Black history, stories about lesser-known Black influential leaders and history makers, different forms of racism in society, and a spoken word performance that celebrated, questioned and empowered today’s society.
Speaking Down Barriers began as a collaboration between Black spoken word artists and poets and a predominantly white church here in Spartanburg. Today the group features numerous artists, theologians, teachers, researchers, and more who promote equity for all throughout the community.
Speaking Down Barriers Executive Director Davelyn Hill commended SMC for hosting the event.
“We were thrilled to offer programming that centered the lives of Black people and shared the importance of seeing Black History as American History. During the program students and staff offered insight and personal stories that pushed the dialogue to new places. We are grateful,” Hill said. “We look forward to having more conversations that foster a deeper sense of community and move us toward equity for all.”
SMC Career Services Coordinator Essence Buckman said the event was a great addition to the Black History Month recognition and appreciated the message shared with students and College faculty and staff.
“The Speaking Down Barriers event was amazing. I have attended their events in the past, so I knew I would be attending an insightful and inspiring event,” she said. “Overall, I appreciated the opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge, and to listen to the experiences and knowledge of others.”
On February 15, SMC hosted a presentation from the Black Economic Mobility Coalition called the “Upstate SC Career Options.” The panel discussion provided students perspectives from five successful Black leaders on their paths to success and advice to students on creating their own career paths.
A common theme among the panelists was encouraging the students to develop their passion and pursue a career path that feeds that passion.
“Part of it is passion. Another part is being open to different directions,” said Shawn Maxwell, who shared her insight and experience in health advocacy. “Look to build a career and not just get a job.”
Students shared their passions with the panelists, who encouraged them to look into why that’s a passion for them and how they can shape their future careers around them.
Following up on these insightful and educational sessions, the SMC Experience team hosted a virtual Black History Sports Trivia night, sharing the important contributions made by Black athletes and the significance Black history plays in sports. Participants were quizzed on athletes, historical sports moments, and cultural breakthroughs in sports with the winner taking home a $20 Hub City Delivery gift card.
For the final week of February, social media lit up with posts and photos celebrating Unity Week. The Instagram-centered celebration featured five themed days encouraging students to post photos with their representation of the day's theme. The five days included:
- Music Monday focusing on favorite Black artists
- Pioneers of Invention recognizing Black inventions
- Black Excellence celebrating great Black leaders
- Rep Your Roots with students wearing items that represent their cultural history
- Blackout Friday with SMC community members wearing black in support of Black communities
With the popularity of social media among students, Unity Week was a big hit. SMC student Kamilah Cook enjoyed sharing her favorites and seeing those of her peers.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Unity Week social media program. I’m glad that I saw my peers participating in this program as well, especially Music Monday. I love seeing other’s music taste,” Cook said.
Cook said she looks forward to seeing more cultural fairs on campus to further unity efforts.