Georgetown University in Qatar celebrate Black History Month

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DOHA, QATAR - View of the campus of Georgetown University Qatar located in the Education City complex launched by the Qatar Foundation in Doha, Qatar.

Georgetown University in Qatar, in collaboration with the US Embassy, celebrated Black History Month, taking inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr.’s autobiography, and aiming to educate and inspire attendees to strive for equality and justice.

The dean of Georgetown University in Qatar, Dr. Safwan Masri, opened the commemorative event saying, “Georgetown University in Qatar is proud to commemorate Black History Month as part of our ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through courses, research initiatives, and public events” adding how grateful he was to his students “for working so hard to encourage engagement and education on racial justice in our academic community and beyond.”

US Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Timmy T. Davis, delivered a reading of Dr. King’s autobiography, and played a recording of Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, to inspire and emphasize its pivotal role in the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King Jr was a Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. Fundamental to the movement’s success in ending the legal segregation of African Americans in parts of the United States his “I Have a Dream” speech delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington became one of the most iconic speeches in American history.

Ambassador Davis told the attendees “The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King changed history. If he had not fought for the civil rights of Black Americans, sacrificing his freedom and eventually his life, I may not have had the chance to serve my country as Ambassador. His legacy continues to inspire me, and those around the world who seek justice through his approach of nonviolent protest”.

The US Embassy staff performed a rendition of what is considered the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” about the hope for freedom. 

Event moderator and co-president of the Black Students Association, Michelle Siyabonga Hadebe, who majors in International Politics and minors in African Studies, stressed: “It is about so much more than the Civil Rights Movement. It’s about the lives, the contributions, and the impact that Black people have had in academia, culture, business, STEM, and other fields. We are not just talking about the past, but contributions that are being made today… My hope is that we continue to celebrate black history all year long. Black people make history every day, not just in February.”

Several other GU-Q (Georgetown University in Qatar) activities have been planned to provide educational opportunities that foster a better understanding of black culture and history. 

Some communities transformed February into Negro History Month as early as the 1940s. With the rise of the American civil rights movement and Black consciousness in the 1960s, Negro History Week had increasingly become Black History Month. 

The choice of the month of February to celebrate Black History dates back further than one might imagine. It is the birth month of two figures who loom large in black history: President Abraham Lincoln (born February 12th) who issued the Emancipation Proclamation and African American abolitionist and author, Frederik Douglass (born February 14th). Since the deaths of both figures in 1865 and 1895, respectively, the Black community have celebrated their contributions to African American liberation and civil rights on their birthdays.

 

In the early 20th century, eminent American historian, Carter G. Woodson, who pioneered African American studies, was inspired by a three-week national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation in 1915, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), that ultimately furthered the institutionalization of February as Black History Month. By 1976, the then U.S. President Gerald Ford, urged Americans to participate in its observance, a custom repeated by US Presidents ever since.

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