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The Antelope

The Antelope

Junkanoo: Festival commemorates Black History Month

Wengeci Kariuki, Avery Laing and Elda Adoko introduce Junkanoo. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

The Black Student Association, the African Student Union and Upsilon Eta Upsilon hosted a Junkanoo celebration in honor of Black History Month. A Junkanoo is a Bahamian cultural celebration that includes dance, music, spirituality and a celebration of freedom.

Avery Laing, president of Upsilon Eta Upsilon, spoke on the relevance of celebrating Black History Month.

“Obviously when you think about Black history, it’s not always positive but to really acknowledge all the positivity and how far we’ve come as a group is really important,“ Laing said. “Especially in a town like Kearney where there’s little to no Black people, it’s really important to make Black individuals feel at home and make them feel like their community still recognizes their success too.”

Filled with games, dancing, a raffle and neon signs and decorations, the Junkanoo provided an opportunity for all students on campus to reflect a bit more on the importance of commemorating Black history.

Crista Manning, public relations specialist of Upsilon Eta Upsilon, said the celebration helped show UNK’s acceptance of others.

“I believe that since we are a predominantly white institution it is important to show that we are accepting and that we allow anyone and everyone to come to campus,” Manning said. “The Junkanoo gives us an opportunity to show off our traditions to students who are not Black and might want to learn more.”

The Junkanoo was the first event of many throughout the week to commemorate the beginning of Black History Month celebrations at UNK. Students, faculty, staff and campus partners were invited to celebrate.

Lateefat Alimi, treasurer of the African Student Union, said it’s important to continue learning about Black history.

“This month serves as a reminder to recognize all of the people who died for us to be where we are today,” Alimi said. “I would invite others to go out of their comfort zones and learn new things and experience and acknowledge other cultures apart from their own. When UNK allows us to host these events, we don’t feel as small. We feel heard and seen.”

Shantanu Kumbhar, freshman computer science major, shared about what the Junkanoo celebration meant to him and his friends in attendance.

“I feel like this event is one that is definitely worth checking out as it is different,” Kumbhar said. “Everyone is equal and we should celebrate everyone’s culture which is exactly what we’re doing right now. Every culture is unique in its own way and it is important for every person to experience as much as they can from others on this campus.”

Photos by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

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