A slow and steady drumbeat surrounded a group of students and faculty on the lawn of the CSUN Matador store Monday afternoon to celebrate Africana studies week.
Faculty from the Department of Africana Studies initiated an open house that discussed the significance of the department and what the week stands for.
“It’s the 47th year since its inception and so there needs to be I think a reminder of what we stand for and what students and faculty have done in terms of the struggle to get here,” said Theresa White, chair of the Africana Studies department.
Activism from students seeking campus diversity has been part of CSUN’s history dating as far back as the late 1960s when the week began.
In 1968, members of the Black Student Union (BSU) occupied CSUN’s (then San Fernando Valley State College) administration building with staff and administrators inside as an effort to increase minority enrollment and staff. The protesters were also seeking an investigation into racism complaints on campus.
Over 20 students were arrested after the occupation.
As recently as Sept. 27, CSUN students protested police shootings by marching around campus, holding black lives matter posters.
“This campus has been transformed because of the activism of students and staff and faculty who were there and really bought into some of the needs of our student population in terms of sense of belonging,” said Cedric Hackett, a professor of Africana Studies.
Monday’s open house stressed the importance of the history of all people, according to Hackett, who led the chant of “knowledge matters.”
“Knowledge matters as a theme is important for us to always remind the campus of who we were, who we are now and where we are going together,” Hackett said.
Organizations set up tables, promoting diversity and different black student groups including the BSU, which offered information to students who attended the open house.
“I believe CSUN does an excellent job of bringing diversity for the African American community, for the LGBTQ community, even for the Asian and Pacific Islanders, said Randy Becton, a 26-year-old child development major. “I think CSUN does a great job of getting everyone involved.”
“It takes more than one week to explain the endurance and struggle that our ancestors went through but it’s a start,” said Darwin Douglas 48, a social welfare major and Africana Studies minor.
The 47th Africana Studies week will hold its keynote lecture, provided by scholar Anthony Samad, Wednesday from 1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m. in Whitsett Room (SH451).