American and Pan American Flags flying.Brookdale Community College marked the commencement of Black History Month with a flag-raising ceremony hosted by the Black Student Union. The event celebrated African Americans’ rich legacy and contributions, beginning with an address from President David M. Stout, Ph.D.

“Today, we marked the beginning of the nation’s month-long celebration of black history,” President Stout began, standing before a gathering of students, faculty, and community members. “As we raise the Pan-African flag today, let us reflect on the significance of this symbol. It represents the many generations that faced unimaginable adversity with unwavering courage. It embodies the strong spirit that has fueled remarkable accomplishments in science, education, law, medicine, technology, the arts, and every imaginable facet of society. This ceremony is more than a simple act of raising a flag. It’s a compelling statement of solidarity.”

The ceremony highlighted the significance of the Pan-African flag with its vibrant red, black, and green bands. The flag’s colors were explained as representing the blood shed for liberation, the people of the African diaspora, and Africa’s natural wealth, respectively.

A poem, “Born Black in America,” by Gilda Rogers, a faculty member, was read, offering a reflective look at the African American experience. Her words echoed the complexities and resilience inherent in the black identity, setting a tone of introspection and pride.

Koran Hogan, a BSU member, took the opportunity to honor black pioneers in various fields, from science and civil rights to politics, highlighting figures such as Katherine Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and Kamala Harris. Hogan’s reflections on black pride and the influence of these leaders on his own life added a layer of personal testimony to the celebration.

Following was the reading of two poems, “The Truth from a Brown,” written by the BSU student, and Maya Angelou’s “Human Family.”

The original poem began like this… “I have heard the voices of many Browns. And seeing the shades of many peaches, ambers, caramels, and chocolates. But I have come to understand that when I am before any, I am home.”

Maya Angelou’s poem ended like this… “In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same. I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike…”

Both poems underscored themes of diversity, unity, and the shared humanity that binds all people, regardless of race. The recitations were a powerful reminder of the beauty in our differences and the common ground we share.

The event culminated in a moving musical student performance by Xavier Reed, who played the first stanza of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on the flute, often called the Black National Anthem. The audience sand along and the melody filled the air as the Pan-African flag was raised, symbolizing hope, unity, and the ongoing journey toward justice and equality.

Following the ceremony a bake sale was held for an upcoming club trip to Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), furthering Brookdale’s students’ educational and cultural enrichment. The BSU is excited to choose between Lincoln and Cheyney University, the first and second HBCUs that were established.

The Black Student Union’s effort to organize such a meaningful event was widely appreciated, reflecting the community’s commitment to celebrating black history and fostering an inclusive environment where every student can feel valued and empowered.