Rosa Parks being arrested. CC Flickr by Matt Lemmon.

Throughout the month of February, student groups are holding events for Black History Month at U of T. The activities are designed to provide a dedicated space for the discussion of black experiences of both the past and the present. Black History Month also acts as an opportunity to support the black community.

With these aims in mind, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) organized a number of events for the first half of February.

These events included festivities such as the Black History Social, which allowed students to enjoy soul food and exchange ideas and views with their peers, and also the ‘Buy Black’ initiative. Buy Black was a two-day event to support local black-owned businesses by enabling them to promote and sell their products on campus.

The UTMSU is also collaborating with Textbooks for Change, a social enterprise that provides affordable educational material locally and abroad. The two organizations are donating 1,000 books to universities in East Africa.

In the second half of the month, the UTM Equity and Diversity Office and the UTMSU are hosting a talk by community organizer and educator Jasiri X.
UTMSU president Uranranebi Agbeyegbe did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.

The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) is holding a conference entitled Resilience and Resistance: Black History Month Conference. On February 27, it will include a number of workshops as well as two keynote speeches. 

The speakers are Yusra Khogali, from the Black Liberation Collective U of T, and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa and Faisha Hassan, from #WitsFeesMustFall, a student activist movement that was started last year in South Africa. The speakers will discuss the challenges of institutionalized anti-black racism within post-secondary education. 

“Resilience and Resistance is one of many spaces created by Black students at the University of Toronto,” said Jessica Kirk, SCSU vice president equity. The SCSU last organized a Black History Month conference in 2014 which involved several student groups at UTSC.

This year, the union worked with a number of associations across the university. “Rather than solely organizing Black History Month initiatives with Black Student Associations at the Scarborough Campus, we reached out to Black student organizers and organizations across all three campuses to demonstrate a true sense of unity in the Black community,” Kirk said.

“[The] SCSU is not limiting the creation and maintenance of spaces for Black students to February,” Kirk explained. “Rather, we aim to take active steps to support Black students and community members all months of the year in various ways.”

For the end of Black History Month, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Social Justice & Equity Commission has organized a spoken word showcase, Afro Speaks! set for February 29. According to the Facebook event page, “The tone of this space will welcome expressions of the radical and critical truths about Blackness/African-ness as it interacts with a white supremacist global system.”

All the events held this month aim to highlight the importance of giving a platform to minority groups. The groups behind the commemoration of Black History Month hope to “collectively create strategies to support and empower the Black community,” according to the Facebook event page.

Stay up to date. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent straight to your inbox:

* indicates required