Video clip by interviewer LeKyndra Duncan and cameraman Drew Mohler. Online technical assistance by Delta webmaster Amit Jain.
This story is a compilation of work by student reporters Ashley Llorens, Jessica Crabtree, Brent Kalwei, and Aki Nagasaka.
Black History Month allows people to see the value of diversity in America, said Lewis W. Diuguid, Kansas City Star columnist and editorial board member, at a presentation at the MVC Eckilson-Mabee Theater on Feb. 18.
To see the value of all people and to appreciate them is truly remarkable, said Diuguid, who has been writing for the Star newspaper since 1977.
As part of the celebration for Black History Month at MVC, Diuguid talked about the history of African-Americans, the educational opportunity of the specially designated month, the progressive importance of the election of the first black U.S. president, and how people need to work as a team to make society better for all.
Diuguid spoke about civil rights activists, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and quoted the lyrics of a Jay-Z rap song, “Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so our children could fly.”
Diuguid said that Black History Month started as Negro History Week in 1926 by author and journalist Carter Woodson, who selected the month of February for its occurrence because of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. As part of the 1976 Bicentennial celebration, the celebration took month form.
Diuguid also told about the many inventions and improvements upon products by African-Americans, including air conditioning, the clothes dryer, lawn mowers, typewriters, spark plugs, and many other items that are part of common use. When people are acknowledged for what they’ve done, they are included in history and there’s a greater possibility for appreciation.
Diuguid said all people and groups need to keep writing American history so that nation lives up to its ideals and can become better.
“Remove the chains of racism, discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice, and we all advance,” he said.
He said that though the people in attendance “might be the people who understand that our fates are tied,” there are other people constantly “trying to pull us apart.”
Diuguid said he also has spoken at prisons. He described prisons as “the 20th and 21st century plantations.” Locking up black men causes them to lose earnings and the ability to be good, productive citizens. He added that low reading scores in elementary school build prisons.
During a question-and-answer period after his presentation, Diuguid said that information is power and that the more information people have at any given age, the more likely they are to get the job they want and to go places. He told the students, “If you just go home and watch the game, you will be stupid for life.” He said, “A lot of us are preventing ourselves from truly being free, from studying in the library so that we don’t get held back.” He encouraged students to use the library, read, and learn.
He said people should work together to make the country more inclusive, regardless of race, gender, and other aspects.
After the event, Diuguid was interviewed for a TV segment by Mass Communication student LeKyndra Duncan, with camera work by Mass Communication student Drew Mohler. It is provided as part of this Delta website story.