“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way,” sang Breyanna Tillman, a student at the University of Memphis.
Students gathered in the University Center River Room for the annual Black History closing ceremony on Friday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. with close to 75 students in attendance.
A slight twist occurred when the main speaker, County Commissioner Henri Brooks, was running late due to unforeseen circumstances.
Approaching the stand out of breath, Brooks did not waste time reviewing the prominent history makers of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead, her approach was more thought-provoking.
“The Civil Rights Movement was led by young people who stepped up to the plate,” Brooks said. “They fought for you to have a seat at the table. Now what are you going to do with it?”
Title VI states that no one can be discriminated from receiving federal funding because of their race, color or national origin.
“If you would just do your homework and analysis where the money is going, you will see that there are certain groups that are being left out," she said. "Let’s ask the hard questions.”
The room was still as she gave her moving speech to the students and faculty. Brooks said that because something is not overt does not mean that it is not happening.
“You will never deal with dogs biting you and fire hoses spraying you, but you will deal with a man in a three-piece suit that graduated from Yale, ” she said.
Brooks believes that the fight for equality is alive and well; however, the tactics have simply changed.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs along with many other organizations on campus plans events for almost every day in the month of February in efforts to shine light on the dynamic history of African Americans. Some of the events included a night with Lou Gossett Jr., Museum on Wheels, Gospel Explosion Concert and a night with Stephan A. Smith (ESPN Anchor).
“The museum on wheels really brought to reality how far we have come,” said Michael Barber, a U of M student.
The Museum on Wheels was set up in the rose theater displaying a panoramic view of the stony road that many had to walk. After two hours of it being open, a lecture was given.
While some events painted a clear picture for students, others exposed students to the history made in their backyard.
“I know it’s sad, but I did not know anything about the Memphis 13, and I’m from Memphis. I learned about it this month at one of the events,” said Toy Thompson, a nursing student at the U of M.
Students were very open to share the many things that they were ignorant about concerning black history.
With all that the students learned, Brooks left everyone with one pressing question, “Where do we go from here?”