Marking the first ever celebration of its kind, CSUN is celebrating the week-long Black Herstory, a series of events held to recognize past female historical figures who would otherwise go unnoticed, and celebrating future leaders.
Held during Black History Month and before Women’s History Month in March, the theme of Black Herstory is “Celebrating Our Past and Envisioning Our Future.” There have been sponsored events for Black Herstory this week, such as lectures from guest speakers.
Other events that will be held this week include a film screening, poetry night, and a closing banquet Feb. 17.
Rachel Murphy, Lasondra Wilson and Korisis Fields are members of the Women’s Studies Association and founders of Herstory. It is the first time the event will be held at CSUN, but the celebration of Herstory has been around on the national level for about nine years.
“Black Herstory is an event that we thought would be good to recognize women,” said Lasondra Wilson, Child and Adolescent Development major and co-organizer. “Because so many times, even in events such as black history month, we really only focus on the men or a selected few amount of women such as Rosa Parks.”
With support from the Women’s Studies Department, Pan-African American Studies Department faculty and advisors, Black Herstory was made possible and will hopefully be continued, Wilson said
“(Black Herstory) is an event where we come together to recognize not only other historical figures, but also to look at the women of the present, our future leaders and show that they can do great things,” said Rachel Murphy, women studies major.
The events are being well accepted by faculty and students.
“I think it’s good that they’re giving us a voice,” said Herstory guest speaker and Pan-African Studies Professor Patricia Grizzle. “In academia, this is how the black community is depicted: (the) black male and the black family. And very seldom are black women taken up in this scenario of the black family. Until the last 20 years, more and more of our voices (were) being heard.”
Despite the celebration, some believe everyone’s history should equally be celebrated.
“I think its unfortunate that we have to educate ourselves about ourselves in a democracy, in an education system that is suppose to work for students and include everyone,” Grizzle said. “You really have to make an effort to find out about your own history and culture, to find a deep understanding because a lot of it refused the things that we learned about in European civilizations.”
When making an effort to celebrate and preserve one’s history, the conclusion is making a “living” history, Grizzle said.
Grizzle’s lecture topic for Thursday is scheduled to be on the process of black women maintaining their own distinctive black culture in the United States. Her focus is on the immigration of Pan-Africans to the United States from countries like Latin America, and the difficulties women may face during this transition.
“Women are the people who teach culture to their kids historically,” Grizzle said. “(My lecture is about) how difficult it is for women to maintain their identities and culture, and what an enormous loss it is for Americans, because they have placed so much emphasis on social economic and political emphasis on this racial dichotomy we have. We all lose.”
The need for Black Herstory is thought to fill a void from the civil rights movement, Grizzle said.
“Some theorize that through the civil rights movement, black males were able to maintain some equity, gain some equity, and the story was that women were asked to hold the door open for the men to walk through and then they would bring us along,” she said. “And the initial advent of the black studies department, black males got a taste of patriarchy and white male’s dominance and we then were faced with still holding the door.”
The event is hoped to encourage and continue the education of overlooked historical and future leaders.
“(Black women) have an amazing spirit,” Grizzle said. “We have a bountiful exuberate spirit and we find so many ways to celebrate ourselves and perhaps if the world and if Americans saw that, instead of just classify us into certain groups, than we would be more respected.”
Yohanna Figueroa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.