Elesha Nicholls, News Reporter
Most people associate February with Valentine’s Day, when chocolates, stuffed animals and flowers are shared.
However, the month is also dedicated to observing and honouring the many black people who have made contributions over the years to society.
Humber College held events celebrating Black History Month such as a paint and sip social, Suubi music, dance, and cultural program, and a black-owned market place. To end the celebrations, Humber’s Black Academic Success and Engagement (The BASE) program held an event called the Black Futures Professional panel on Feb. 28.
The panel was composed of four successful black professionals: Tiffany Ford , an entrepreneur and a 2018 Toronto city council candidate; Stachen Fredrick, the executive director of Frontlines Toronto and founder of Braids for AIDS; Sepo Achampong, the co-founder of Black Owned Unity and a Humber alumni; and Neil Price, the Associate Dean for the School of Social and Community Services at Humber.
Together they discussed many topics such as the importance of Black History Month, finding success, the challenges black professionals face in the workplace, and the future for black students as they become professionals.
“We live in a society where black history and the lived experience of being black is not made visible by our main stream, our education systems, or by the media,” Price said.
“Black History Month started out as a way for blacks to say we’re here, we matter, and we should be valued as contributors to society,” he said.
“Many times, we wait for opportunities to be handed to us. Sometimes we have to create our own opportunities,” Ford said.
During the event the panelists each took turns facilitating discussions in smaller groups where questions were asked and insight was given.
She said running for city council and funding her own campaign allowed her to change the narrative of her community in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area.
“It’s shifting now,” Price said. “Black history is becoming less historically focused and we’re in a place where young people want to talk about planning and building.
“It’s got this forward-looking tone to it which is exciting,” he said. “The challenge now is to do black history 12 months a year instead of one.
“I still worry about it being a one-month experience,” Price said.