Black Student Union brings guest speaker

Emmett Till and his Mother, Mamie Carthan Till

Jill Lira / Washburn Review

February is national Black History Month, but for students, faculty and staff in the Washburn community, it is an important time to celebrate historical attributes in the Black culture.  

Dona Walker, director of the Multicultural Affairs office and the adviser for the Washburn Black Student Union, said they have booked Bryon Embry to present “The Whistle that Changed America.”

The presentation details the story of Emmett Till, a young man who was murdered in August 1955 because it was thought that he whistled at a white woman on the streets. Embry ties Till’s story to people in the past, present and even the future.

Carter G. Woodson began Negro History Week in 1926, which in turn lead into an entire month dedicated to celebrate Black history. The Washburn Black Student Union is helping spread the celebration of Black History around campus and the Topeka community.

The organization is involved in numerous events featured by Student Activities and Greek Life. The 15 members of the group provide community service and raise money to bring different performers to campus for students and the community to enjoy.

The Black Student Union recently hosted a movie night in the Learning Living Center but knew the community would be looking to Washburn for events during the month. By bringing in Embry, Walker wanted to emphasize the importance of understanding history.

“I think Black History Month is important not only for students but also for the Washburn and the Topeka communities,” said Walker. “I think the community really looks to Washburn in instances like this to do programming and it is important we get the word out.”

Along with bringing in programs to the community, Walker wants people to understand deeper than just the month of February that Black history is celebrated.

“Black History Month is an important time to highlight history. There is a broad range of ways to celebrate but it is important to keep history and issues now in forefront,” said Walker.

Walker also feels as though history can sometimes be underrated.

“Sometimes people take people who know history for granted and some people may think they know something that may or may not be right but it is important that people know history,” said Walker.

Audrey Victor, junior, feels as though cultures in America are constantly being examined under historical circumstances.

“Whether it be Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month, it is really a never-ending understanding that people’s diverse backgrounds affect their everyday lives,” said Victor.

Victor also acknowledged the importance of education.

“It is important to recognize other people’s heritages and cultures especially in the student environment. What better place is there to learn than on campus,” said Victor.

Embry will present “The Whistle that Changed America” Monday Feb. 22, 2010 at 7 p.m. in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center. Admission will be a cash donation toward Haiti Relief or one canned food item for the Washburn Student Government Association’s event “Can Emporia.”

The Washburn Black Student Union meets every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Blair Room of the Living Learning Center.