WT to celebrate second annual Black History Month Banquet


The Jack B. Kelly Student Center’s Legacy Hall, where the second annual Black History Month celebration banquet took place. From wtamu.com

Jonah Dietz, Senior Reporter

It is February, which means Black History Month is upon us once more. To help facilitate an informative and celebratory time, where one has close and easy access to a real and actualizing learning environment, West Texas A&M University’s own Black Women’s Association has organized a banquet as well as platforms for a number of speakers. The theme chosen by the BWA for this year’s month is “We must be the change we want to see.” Each of the speakers will tell their stories and present their insight with an emphasis on this theme. Not coincidentally, this is also the theme of the BWA’s Martin Luther King Jr. video essay scholarship contest, the deadline of which is Feb. 19.

The speakers will be prominent, local Black men and women. “We are thrilled to welcome this outstanding slate of guest speakers,” said Janeth Stewart, the Black Women’s Association advisor. “And we expect that our students and the entire audience will benefit greatly from hearing them discuss their lived experiences.”

The lineup of speakers as well as their corresponding speaking date is as follows. Joseph B. Peterson Jr., a WTAMU graduate and Edward Jones financial adviser, will be speaking on February 3. Ta’keira Benoit of the National Nuclear Security Administration and Kourtney Punch-Russell of Pantex Plant will speak on February 10. And community activist and Amarillo College Associate Director of Academic Advising Melodie Graves will speak on February 17.  When talking about her role in the month’s celebration, Graves said “I hope the students learn about my journey and are empowered to overcome obstacles and know they are capable of anything.”

Each speech will begin at 6 p.m. weekly in the Legends Club in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center. Naturally, masks and social distancing will be mandated. For those unable to attend in person, there will be Zoom options made available and dispersed as necessary before the event by Diane King. Simply email her at [email protected] to RSVP.

WT’s Black History Month celebration will round out with its second Black History Commemorative Banquet on February 26. The banquet will begin at 6 p.m. in Legacy Hall inside the JBK. More specific information about the month’s proceedings will be distributed on campus and found online closer to the time of the individual events.

The theme echoes former President Barack Obama’s famous quote from his 2008 speech in Chicago. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time,” Obama said, while talking about the dire American need for a change. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” And as the past few years have shown us, now more than ever is the time for us to do what we can to rectify the sins of the past–simply because now is the time that we have to make a contribution.