The Africana Studies department hosted a free event to kick off Black History Month late Friday morning at the University Student Union (USU) with Director and Producer Leslie Small.
Small, the former president of the Black Student Union (BSU) at CSUN, was asked to kick off Black History Month by longtime professor of the Africana Studies department, Cedric Hackett.
Hackett hopes that events like these will “promote a positive racial identity and racial uplift of people of African descent.”
Small, instantly ignited the room by telling stories of the struggles the BSU endured in the ’90s. He joked about how a debate between the history department faculty and the BSU made the 1994 Northridge earthquake occur due to its uproar.
Small grew up in the Pacoima Projects in the ’90s, a neighborhood in California that was swept with gang activity. Now the former Matador is known for directing 43 films and producing 15 others such as “Mo Funny, Mo Laughs,” “Kevin Hart: What Now?” and “Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain.”
Small spoke highly of the importance of being the best version of yourself without forgetting the history of your culture.
“We were pushing for freedom,” Small said. “We were pushing for truth.”
He discussed how learning of different cultures should be required, harkening to recent developments at CSUN, namely Executive Order 1100-Revised (EO 1100-R), which recently attempted to minimize comparative culture classes within graduation requirements.
Third-year student and Advising Resource Center/Educational Opportunity Program advisor Gilberto Quirarte was quick to comment on EO 1100-R during the forum.
“They don’t want to make our culture a requirement for other people to learn,” Quirarte said. “I don’t think it’s important for just us to learn about our own culture but for other people to learn our culture so we don’t get bullied for who we are right now.”
As the crowd began to exit, they were encouraged to take a rock before leaving and write an event from African history on it to pass along, spread awareness and create unity among campus cultures, symbolic of the South African cave stone that bears the worlds oldest drawings.