Every year, the same months come around and the same celebrations occur, yet every year is different, according to Duan Ruff, assistant director of Colorado State University’s Black African American Culture Center.
“Every year during Black History Month, we have new people who bring their own style and flavor, and that’s what represents the Black culture,” Ruff said.
This year, Varehya Pratt, a first year product development major at CSU, brought a unique twist to the celebration of Black History Month by sharing her art with the campus community.
Pratt was offered the opportunity to create a hat to sell at the CSU Bookstore that would represent Black and African-American culture, history and unity.
The hat design uses Kente print for the African continent on the front of the hat with the CSU logo in the middle of it. The front and back strap of the hat are covered in Kente print fabric as well.
“We wanted to represent more than just Africa and Black culture by bringing CSU into it, so that’s why I decided to put CSU’s logo in the middle of Africa,” Pratt said. “It shows how we can all be united as one as fellow Rams.”
The Kente fabric print represents the strength of the Black community throughout its history and how much they had to fight to be where they are today, Pratt said.
During the summer of 2014, Pratt went to the Black Issues Forum program at CSU with her high school from Denver, Colorado. During the program, she took courses to learn more about the African American culture and history. When Pratt graduated from the program she received a scarf with the Kente print on it.
“This print represents how much I went through to learn my own history while also representing the black culture, and that is why it’s so prominent in the design of my hat,” she said.
This year, Black History Month is different because as newer generations become more engaged in the community, awareness and activism increases, Pratt said.
“We are always learning from the previous generations and growing, and we spread that knowledge as we grow,” Pratt said.
Ruff said he was in a store a few days ago wearing the hat, and a man stared at him and sent off a positive and friendly vibe.
“We had that connection because of the hat I was wearing,” he said. “Being able to have a connection with someone I don’t know is the beauty of what we celebrate during Black History Month.”
Pratt has been trying to get involved in creating a difference at CSU since she was enrolled.
“We (the BAACC office) are always trying to find ways to bring people to CSU and show them how great and diverse our university really is,” Pratt said.
This opportunity presented to the BAACC office shows how inclusive the University is trying to be, said Ivan Hubbard, BAACC office development and retention coordinator. He said it was a great opportunity to allow students to showcase their talents and serves as a catapult for Pratt’s future career goals.
The Bookstore is selling the hats for $25.99. In an email to the Collegian, John Parry, Director of the CSU Bookstore said the Bookstore will provide ten dollars from each hat sold between now and the end of the month to the BAACC offices for use in future programs.
“I want to make a difference here and make it a more diverse and welcoming campus than it already is,” Pratt said. “Making this hat and spreading it with the CSU community is one step in the right direction.”