Black History Month event teaches culture and acceptance

Dr. Carey-Butler; BHM Event
Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler presents as the keynote speaker for the Black History Month event held at UW-Fox Feb. 20. · photo by Vinnie Oestreich.

University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley held the annual Fox Cities black history program Feb. 20.

The “Black History 365 Days a Year” event is brought to campus by African Heritage Inc. in celebration of Black History Month.

Byron Adams, program manager of student engagement and retention at UW Oshkosh’s division of academic support of inclusive excellence (ASIE), believed this event was important because it celebrates and recognizes black history, African accomplishments and the culture they brought to America.

He also stated that the UW system is doing a phenomenal job of celebrating African history and black history month because how well the events promote and encourage diversity.

Appleton mayor Tim Hanna attended the event, and explained how he promotes diversity in the Fox Cities.

“There’s quite a bit going on. For about 12 years we’ve had a full-time diversity coordinator that connects with the diverse population within the community. We’re actually the only city outside of Milwaukee and Madison who have dedicated resources to that,” Hanna said. “Another thing that is going on lately is conversations around race issues. We see the incidents that draw attention, [and] we don’t want that to happen so you take the step forward and you have the hard conversations.”

Hanna also explained why the celebration of race and ethnicity is so important.

“When we can learn to celebrate each other, there’s uniqueness and background, it just makes us stronger as a community. On another level, it’s really important to set the tone for a city to be known as the kind of city that welcomes diversity,” Hanna said.

Sylvia Carey-Butler, keynote speaker and ASIE assistant vice chancellor at UW Oshkosh, believes events likes these ones are important because they expose everyone to the idea of black history and diversity.

“Everyone should learn something about their culture and other cultures because the more you learn, the more you see what we have in common,” Carey-Butler said.

Emcee Keith L. Brown was a very spirited host that put smiles on everyone’s faces and kept the energy levels elevated.

Brown believes that energetic public speaking is important in instilling positive change.

“If you catch on fire with enthusiasm, people will come from miles just to watch you burn; always hot, always hyped and excited about life,” Brown said.

Brown is passionate about events that bring about awareness and equity, equality and hope.