Black History Month shows the ‘Blackprint’ for American culture


Collegian | Brian Peña

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

As Black History Month approaches, the Black/African American Cultural Center at Colorado State University prepares for a series of events that will celebrate students and their heritage.

Guided by the theme “Blackprint: The Original Blueprint,” this year’s unique set of events will bring student identity to the forefront. 


The theme is meant to point out the influence Black and African culture has on American culture, including fashion, music, pop culture and monumental moments in American history. 

Students like Jocelyn Lapham, peer coordinator at B/AACC, and Andrew Brown, peer coordinator and executive member of the United Men of Color student organization, have worked tirelessly to make sure this year’s events reflect those cultural influences. 

“Black History Month, first and foremost, is a celebration,” Lapham said. “So as much educating as we’re doing, we’re also trying to really just celebrate our roots and where our students come from, wherever that is.”

JJ McKinney

From the Black History Kick-off on Feb. 1 to the Ghetto Visionary Fashion Fridays hosted by the United Men of Color (date and location to be announced), there’s a lot of celebrating to participate in. Even more serious events, such as a talk from keynote speaker Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, will offer students places to learn, express themselves and celebrate whether they’re a part of the Black community or not.

“Most people probably don’t even know Bobby Seale is still alive,” Brown said. “It’s just super exciting for us. I think it’s super educational but then also extremely motivating and inspirational.”

Though all students are welcome to participate, prejudiced actions will not be tolerated at events. In previous years, both Brown and Lapham recalled “Zoom bombings” where students would crash Black History Month B/AACC Zoom meetings to yell slurs or type racist things in the chat. 

“These acts of aggression aren’t uncommon,” Lapham said. “Instances like this are harder to get away with in person.” Lapham and fellow coordinators have spent a lot of time discussing how to protect students in the event something does happen. 

“I really care about protecting students as much as I care about representing them and giving them opportunities to express themselves,” Lapham said. “With Bobby Seale, it’s really nerve wracking for me under the surface. I think with someone associated with the Black Panther Party but then also the civil rights era, sometimes that comes with unwanted attention.”

Fort Collins is a predominately white area, and while it is important for non-Black people to educate themselves, it is also important that the Black and African members of the Fort Collins community feel supported. 


“We all come together to celebrate Black History Month, just like any other like heritage month,” Brown said. “So that’s what I’m hoping other students will be able to do this month and just kind of show up and show support for our celebration.”

While Seale may attract some unwanted attention because of his association with the Black Panther Party, he also has an important perspective on American culture and history. Seale’s impact on American society did not come without adversity. The opportunity to listen to his experiences will be an incredible one for the entire CSU community.

JJ McKinney

“Bobby Seale was a Black Panther in the time of violence and all kinds of awful things,” Lapham said. “He might have a way about him that is helpful to Black students of, ‘How do you respond to racism when it’s in your face?’” 

While the keynote speaker and Real Talks offer a deeper look at Black culture and identity, this month also includes fun events for students to relax and socialize at.

“One of the most exciting things we’re doing is the ghetto visionary, which is like a dress event,” Brown said. “We’re going to redefine the word ghetto and take it to a more … creative place to where it’s more like ghetto fabulous, where we’re combining our Blackness and our fashion choices and just creating something new.”

There is also a taco night, trivia, a hair show, a “sex for chocolate” event and many other fun events meant to showcase the blueprint Black culture has been for so much of American culture. 

Whether students are drawn in by the Kick-off, want to engage in the Real Talks, hear Seale speak or attend the Ghetto Visionary, this year’s Black History Month has an event for everyone.

Reach Ivy Secrest at or on Twitter @IvySecrest.