Black History Events Include Awareness for Missing Children

February 12, 2015

In recognition of Black History Month, the Black Student Alliance at Mary Baldwin University is shining a light on an often minimized or ignored group: missing black and missing

One of the student organizers, Kiera Kimp, a senior social work major from Baltimore, said the second-annual Black and Missing event at 7 p.m. on February 18 is designed to highlight the disparity between abducted children of different races and the amount of mass media coverage the disappearances receive.

“More than 800 African-American children vanish every day,” Kimp said. “These missing children receive 80 percent less mass media attention than their Caucasian counterparts.”

Organizers hope that students and other attendees will find a missing child from the Black and Missing Foundation website, print information about that child, and carry a picture of the child throughout the day and to the 7 p.m. vigil. Taking one step further, they are asking their classmates to prepare a 30-second pitch, explaining the idea behind the campaign and providing specific information about the missing child they’ve researched. The pitch, Kimp said, can be taken into the classroom and out into the community.

“We encourage [students] to walk around downtown and visit local shops in groups to help make an impact in the community,” she said.

Supporters are encouraged to wear black T-shirts and have their faces painted white at the Spencer Center on campus between 8 and 11 a.m. next Wednesday before the evening event.

“We hope that our community event will ignite the hearts of community members to advocate and find our children,” Kimp said. “We paint our faces to make a statement — letting the community know that we have not forgotten about our missing children. On our faces we have the child’s name, and year that they were announced as ‘missing.’ We strongly encourage all clubs, majors, and community members to participate in our service project.”

Other Black History Month events include a master class and concert on February 17 with Afro-Blue, Howard University’s premier student vocal jazz ensemble, and perennial favorites such as the Ladies of Elegance Step Show and the Praise House Service at Allen Chapel AME Church, in which congregants are encouraged to wear slave-era attire [which is made possible in large part thanks to the college theatre department].

According to the Rev. Andrea Cornett-Scott, associate vice president for inclusive excellence and for student affairs, the annual service — to be held at 11 a.m. February 22 — helps students to explore the roots of African-American worship.

“It is impossible to study the black church without being totally immersed in it because there is a difference in seeing church and being church,” Cornett-Scott said. “The dress allows students to go back in time and reenact the plantation church which [civil rights activist W.E.B.] Du Bois calls the greatest repository of African culture. Teaching is more than chalkboards and desks. It is living the subject.”

Religion plays a key role in the planning of Black History Month events, according to Cornett-Scott. The theme, “Roots: My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” is inspired by title of an African-American spiritual.

“At the very core of African-American culture is the rooted idea of faith,” she said. “[The theme] exemplifies the abiding faith within the culture that says that not only are African-American people made in the image of God, but that there is a certain reliance on God.”

Black History events began in January with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. service, Kwanzaa celebration, and guest speaker Douglas A. Blackmon and will continue through March and April with several more events. For more information, please see the Black History Month poster online.