AAS marching

Members of Eckerd’s African American Society march in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade on Jan. 21. In the front (from left to right) Joelle Clayborne and Isha Joseph, in the back Bree Walton and Aiden Browne.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford announced that Black History would be celebrated during the entire month of February. Now, Eckerd’s Afro-American Society celebrates by sponsoring school-wide activities.

“I don’t wants folks to forget that black history is very much American history and February is just very much the time to showcase,” president of the Afro-American Society (AAS) and junior Isha Joseph said.

The AAS was founded in the 1970s, and now there are about 20 active members as of Spring semester 2019, with a total of 100 who take part. The current AAS adviser is director of communications and marketing Robbyn Hopewell.

According to Joseph, AAS is a safe space for African-American students. It is a time for getting together and talking about each others’ days while enjoying foods from places like Jamaica and the Caribbean.

AAS also sponsors movie nights and parties. Right now, the club plans on throwing a carnival of all different cultures during Kappa Fest on Mar. 2.

According to Morgan Harthorne, coordinator of diversity and inclusion programs at the office of multicultural affairs, there were three CPS events for students sponsored by AAS this month.

The first was “Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue,” featuring Jackie Patterson, NAACP director of environmental, climate and social justice.

Patterson spoke about issues pertaining to climate that are immediately affecting black and brown communities.

Feb. 12 was set to hold another event, “Spoken Word,” featuring poet and activist Staceyann Chin. This event was cancelled due to sudden scheduling complications.

“A People’s Revolution,” featuring President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Desmond Meade was held Tues. Feb. 19.

Meade was one of the leaders for the Amendment 4 initiative, which restored voting rights to returning felons. This amendment affects 1.4 million people and 70 percent of them are part of the African- American community, according to Joseph.

“The fact it was a successful initiative and changed the constitution of an entire state is really incredible,” Joseph said.

The club is open to all Eckerd students. There are weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m. in the Office of Service Learning.

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