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‘Purely About Celebration’: Undergraduates Commemorate Black History Month

Harvard undergraduates are celebrating Black History Month with mixers, art projects, and a Black Legacy Ball featuring Associate Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson '92.
Harvard undergraduates are celebrating Black History Month with mixers, art projects, and a Black Legacy Ball featuring Associate Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson '92. By Julian J. Giordano
By Summer Z. Sun, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard College students are celebrating Black History Month with a series of events thrown by undergraduate houses and affinity groups.

Black History Month — started by historian Carter G. Woodson, who earned his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1912 — honors Black Americans and their role in U.S. history. February has been annually recognized as Black History Month by every U.S. president since 1976.

Currier House celebrated with a stein on Thursday, featuring catering from local Black-owned restaurants Suya Joint, Rock City Pizza, and The Coast Cafe.

Tolu T. Ademola ’26 — a member of the Currier House Committee, which planned the event — praised the Nigerian food at the stein.

“I’m Nigerian myself, and you don’t really get an opportunity to have authentic Nigerian food very often, and so I think this is a really good opportunity for that,” Ademola said.

Andrew G. Robinson ’25, another member of the Currier House Committee, said that in a school that can be “exorbitantly stressful,” events like the stein serve to build house community by providing an “outlet to have fun and talk with friends.”

“I know that Currier’s community is one of my favorite things not only about my house, but about the school,” Robinson said.

The Harvard Black Students Association threw its seventh annual Black Legacy Ball on Saturday. A tradition that began in 2018, the event featured a special guest this year: Associate Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson ’92.

BSA vice president Mara S. Sims ’25 said the event was the most attended Black Legacy Ball since she joined the club, with 350 RSVPs. Sims attributed the popularity of the Black Legacy Ball to it being “purely about celebration and excitement.”

“A lot of times, Black History Month programming on a national level can be geared towards the Civil Rights movement and Jim Crow of it all,” Sims said. “And while there is a time and a place for that, I think it is equally important that, as Black people, we get together to do nothing but celebrate our Blackness.”

“That’s what Black Legacy Ball is for,” she added.

The Black Arts Collective — an undergraduate organization “dedicated to Black artistry at Harvard” — is planning a photoshoot later this month in celebration of its club members who are committed to curating BAC events and art spaces.

Jetta M. Strayhorn ’25, a member of BAC, pointed to the importance of honoring Black artistry, particularly during Black History Month.

“Especially at this school where a lot of time emphasis is placed on research, development, consulting — non-artistic means of planning your future — we find it really important to emphasize how crucial Black artistry is to not only the art community, but also the Black community,” Strayhorn said.

“When it comes to Black History Month, the importance of that is ten-fold,” Strayhorn added.

The Generational African American Students Association is also planning a series of events throughout February, including hosting a Mardi Gras Mixer in celebration of African American culture in Louisiana and the southern U.S. and hosting a Queer Affinity Space in recognition of LGBTQ+ Black voices.

GAASA President Ricardo R. Razon IV ’25 said GAASA feels “a duty to really, really uplift” Black stories.

“The stories don’t often get told — unless you’re taking a history class or a class in the [African and African American Studies] department at Harvard,” Razon said.

“When you have an opportunity to shape how your history gets told, why not take as much of a role as possible in that?” he added.

—Staff writer Summer Z. Sun can be reached at Follow her on X @summerzsun.

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