Three flags flying and blowing in the wind. American, Pan-African and Monmouth County Flags.“Sometimes history is nasty, it’s scary, it’s bitter and if we don’t learn history, we will forget history,” said the President of the Black Student Union, Belinda Asamoah. “And one thing I know for sure is that history will repeat itself. We don’t want history to repeat itself. You want to learn from it.” 

Today Brookdale Community College commenced Black History Month highlighted by a Pan-African flag raising; a poignant and powerful poem recited by Black Student Union member Kenny Grant that was written by award-winning author and poet Reg E. Gains; and beautifully ended by Kellie SandersJennings, supervisor of Conference Services and co-advisor of the Black Student Union, leading the crowd in singing Lift Every Voice and Sing. Few know that the song was written initially as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1900) and put to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. It is one of the most cherished songs of the African American Civil Rights Movement and is often referred to as the Black National Anthem. 

President of Brookdale Community College, Dr. David M. Stout, kicked off the ceremony with some remarks. 

“The Pan-African flag that we raise today will fly as a reminder of the contributions of our culturally vibrant black community that continues to shape our lives. As we raise this flag, it is also imperative to recognize the inequities and injustices that Black Americans have historically faced and continue to face today.” 

“I am committing today to form an advisory board and a task force so that we can move from making statements to taking actions,” Stout said. “May the Pan-African flag fly high above our college as a relentless reminder of the majesty of Black History and Brookdale’s commitment to the pursuit of a truly just and equitable society.” 

Vice President of the Black Student Union Tabitha Destinoble spoke about Black History Month’s history.

“Also known as African American History Month, it is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in US history,” she said. “It was the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976 every US President has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating the history of African Americans.” 

Brookdale TV’s recording of the event.