On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Castleton students celebrated Black History Month with the NAACP’s Black History Fair. This fair was an excellent opportunity for students to immerse themselves in Black culture, take steps to educate themselves on Black history, and get a glimpse of what the Black community still experiences just because of their skin color. The fair was a testament to how far we have come and how much farther we, as a country, have to go.
A student and faculty favorite was a virtual reality theater which showed the “Traveling While Black Documentary”. The experience took the viewer through the terrorizing racism that too many have suffered through.
One student brought up that it “was inescapable” and that the format really emphasized the deeper meaning of the documentary.
Another booth showcased shocking Vermont statistics from the last few years about people of color in the state.
One study from the Vermont Health Department and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that only 53% of students of color felt valued in their community. There was also a study that showed that 96.2% of households were headed by someone who was only white compared to the national average of 77%.
Another Spartan favorite was a feature on braiding. The poster gave a look into the intriguing history of protective hairstyles within the Black community. Included were facts about how enslaved people had used braiding as a way of secret communication. The tradition dates back to 3500 BCE in Namibia, where different braiding styles were used to identify the ethnic group and social status of the wearer.
A “History Train” station also allowed participants to put important events in Black history in chronological order. Some of these included The NAACP’s formation on February 12, 1909, the civil rights marches, and voting rights protests.
This board also contained a list of people who were killed due to police brutality. Names included were: Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more that continue to go unnamed.
A Martin Luther King Jr. board was also present, containing many of his famous quotes. The one that was in the center of the board read, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
The most colorful board was about the history of Step and its influence on our culture. The history of Step began as a way for enslaved people to communicate within the terrible conditions of the mine systems. It then evolved into a form of self-expression in the Black community. Then further into some iconic dances like the Charleston. Step is still very prevalent today, and many colleges have Step teams and compete on a national level.
Finally, in celebration of the NAACP’s 113th birthday, pieces of cake were passed out.
The NAACP has many events planned and the next to come up is the Multicultural Fashion Show at 5 p.m. on March 5.