By: Dan Dankert
February is nationally recognized as Black History Month. It’s a time for reflection. It’s a time where we can take a step back and focus on the overwhelming impact African Americans have made on this country. The Quad Cities Cultural Alliance (QCCA), a group that includes WIU-QC staff and students, took several steps to make sure Black History Month was a focus here at the Quad Cities campus.
You may have seen some educational posters around campus about prominent African Americans in the United States. This was a project taken up by QCCA and spearheaded by Cameron Ruiz, a student here at WIU-QC. In this project, Cameron asked WIU-QC faculty and staff to submit a short write-up on an African American who inspired them or influenced their work.
The result of this was the creation of 22 educational posters for both Black History Month and the new set that was up for Women’s History Month, equally placed around campus. You can find them in both atriums, in the skywalks, and elsewhere on campus. Each poster has what each faculty or staff member wrote, and pictures of both the writer, and the African American that the writer focused on. With a host of different events taking place on campus across the last month I heard several guests to the campus talk about how great the posters were and how they demonstrate WIU-QC’s drive to make everyone feel welcome and to have an inclusive campus.
I was able to catch up with Cameron and ask him a few questions about the project. When I asked him what impact these educational posters had on students Cameron responded:
My hope is that it expands the consciousness of the campus, by recognizing figures in history that more often than not go unrecognized. Not only that but it also allows our students, if they haven’t already, to maybe get to know faculty and other students on campus a bit better. One thing I think is cool about the posters is that the paragraph describing the figure being recognized is submitted by the faculty member or student whose picture is featured on the lower left hand corner. It’s as if that faculty member or student is speaking directly to the person reading it saying hey, “this is who this person is, this is how they’ve inspired me, and now I hope that you can find some inspiration as well.” In my opinion, that is one way to expand the consciousness of a college campus.
For a campus that hangs flags of every state or country that it has had students from, this project is just another example of the campus recognizing the diverse influences that made this campus what it is today and presenting these influences to the entire student body for them to learn and grow from.
Not only were there educational posters across campus the QCCA also had a Black History Month Trivia Competition fundraiser. With around 20 individuals attending, the night included black history month focused trivia as well as a host of other trivia topics. A night full of food, fun, and learning, expect there to be a trivia night here on campus next year as well. Here are some pictures of the Trivia Night taken by Priscilla Porter:
Ultimately, Black History month was a great example of a university giving back. The QCCA went out of their way to provide students with educational content in the posters and they provided a fun and enlightening trivia night. With Women’s History Month just starting, it will be interesting to see what they have in store going forward.