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The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Boykin opens College’s Black History celebration

Originally Published Feb. 6, 1997

The College commenced its celebration of Black History Month at yesterday’s common hour with speaker Keith Boykin. Boykin, the Executive Director of the National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum, spoke about minority issues in his lecture entitled “One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America,” held in Rubendall Recital Hall.

Throughout the presentation, dubbed as a discussion on the troubles of being a “double marked group,” Boykin tried to focus on a theme of unity. He said that not only must the African-American and homosexual communities strive for harmony, but so should all groups of Americans.

“The prejudices we face today are the same prejudices we faced yesterday,” he said. “The root cause of all prejudices and biases are the same. To overcome this we must reach out beyond the boundaries which divide us.”

Through stories of personal experiences, Boykin traced his path through law school, discovering his true sexuality, working for the Clinton administration, and finally accepting the leadership of the National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum. While writing his book, “One More River To Cross,” he studied discrimination against both blacks and gays in depth. Boykin targeted his speech, however, at a broader audience. His discussion covered issues that most people, regardless of race or life-style, could relate to. He emphasized that students must take a leadership role in their communities even in the face of fear.

“Each of us has a role to play and we have to discover that role through our own experiences. We are all called for a reason. We are all called to greatness. We are all called to be leaders,” Boykin said. “It is not to be great by acting without fear, but in acting in spite of fear. We must be honest to ourselves and live our lives with courage and dignity.” 

Many students reacted positively to Boykin’s message. “I really liked it,” freshman Olaitan Abidoye said. “I was afraid that it would only be about black and gay issues, but it was relevant to everyone. We all could learn something from it and the specific examples gave the talk more meaning.”

Boykin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, served two years as an assistant to President Clinton and was Director of Specialty Press. The event was co-sponsored by the Equality House, ALLIES, the Shaw Lecture Fund, the Student Senate Speaker’s Fund, the Common Hour Fund, the Department of

Sociology, and the Department of History. Other events scheduled to demonstrate Black History Month include a series of short individual performances that students have created to celebrate how they personally feel about black history. Entitled “Mere Thoughts,” these performances will be held in the ATS on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7:00 p.m.

Keynote speaker Dr. Cornel West will discuss his book “Race Matters,” on Wednes- day, Feb. 12 at 7:00 p.m in the ATS. There will also be a “Flavors of the Caribbean” dinner in the social hall on Thursday, Feb. 20. Finally, two CAB movies, “A Time To Kill,” based on John Grisham’s novel and “Get On The Bus,” Spike Lee’s story of black men traveling to the million man march, will round out the month.

Black History Week was first established in 1926 by Carter G. Woodsman. At that time, the celebration lasted only a week.

The week in February, chosen because of its proximity to the birthday of Frederick Douglas on the 7th and Abraham Lincoln on the 12th, was eventually extended to a month- long commemoration of blacks and their impact on the country.

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