March 4, 2015 | 3 p.m.
By Tricia Theurer, Communications Specialist
The entire Bethel community celebrated Black History Month in February with a varied lineup of events on campus. Chapel presentations featured prominent African-Americans, including Jason Carthen, a business leader and former New England Patriots football player; Tru Serva, a rap artist; and Josie Johnson, a prominent civil rights leader. Edward Gilbreath, author of Reconciliation Blues and Birmingham Revolution, will speak at Bethel in March.
Other events included a Film Forum, with a showing of the recent Oscar-winning movie 12 Years a Slave, as well as a live theatre performance, African America—performed by the Minneapolis-based Mixed Blood Theatre—which tells the story of a biracial couple seeking to understand and appreciate the experiences of immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Liberia.
The Bethel community didn’t shy away from tough conversations. College of Arts & Sciences student leaders, in collaboration with several university departments and offices, sponsored a panel discussion on the question, “Why are people saying black lives matter?” The purpose of the event was to “address how Bethel’s core value of reconciliation compels us to bring solutions and healing to the ongoing tragic consequences surrounding race, policing, and other issues related to social justice.”
Bethel Seminary St. Paul hosted Trevor Sampson, a pastor and musician from South Africa, as part of its Black History Month events. Sampson started his journey of full-time music ministry with Youth For Christ, South Africa, in 1980. The Praise Africa projects were his brainchild, and his vast experience in arts, sound engineering, and recording has made him a mentor and father to many of South Africa’s young and upcoming artists.
Sophomore Victoria Featherstone, the director of Moya in United Cultures of Bethel with Bethel Student Government (BSG), helped plan the month’s events. She talked about how important Black History Month is to the Bethel community—especially to community members of color. “I see Black History Month as a time where communally we validate the history of African Americans, who are a huge part of the fabric of American history,” she says. “It is my hope that the conversations and events that happen during this month are launching pads for the community to normalize conversations that surround race and what is commonly called the Black experience. Through these conversations we all play a part in liberating our brothers and sisters and validating their realities. I think anytime we get a chance to do that it’s an honor.”
Black History Month was a collaboration of many Bethel departments and offices, including Campus Ministries, Student Life, United Cultures of Bethel, and more. Featherstone says the collaboration “speaks loudly to me as a student of color on this campus, when I see multiple departments helping to celebrate this month. It validates my value, as a student of color, to the campus and the community.”