Harper Wants Blacks to Feel Welcome 12 Months a Year Students Ask for Support Besides Just Black History Month

By Williams, Kendra L. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 3, 1998 | Go to article overview

Harper Wants Blacks to Feel Welcome 12 Months a Year Students Ask for Support Besides Just Black History Month


Williams, Kendra L., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kendra L. Williams Daily Herald Staff Writer

No one embodied the spirit of Harper College's black history month celebration better than Ivon Ginjauma.

An accounting student who loves African-American poetry, Ginjauma sent tingles down spines earlier this week when she did a dramatic presentation of Nikki Giovanni's poem "Ego Trippin" in the Building A student lounge.

With her lip curled, her arms spread wide and her index finger pointed defiantly, Ginjauma made everyone in the audience believe that she was Mother Earth - that the sky, the ocean and everything in between jumped at her beckoning.

For the Elk Grove Village resident, the poem affirms the strength of her heritage.

But celebrating Black History Month at Harper College is not always easy. Students involved in the African-American Student Association say they are proud of Wednesday's program, which included African-American poetry, art and dancing. But they say they need more support from the college throughout the year to truly be successful.

"There's so few black people already in school," Ginjauma said. "It's hard getting other people to support it. Especially at a community college, it's hard. People are older and they have their own lives."

Black history is the topic of a newly revived course in Harper's history department. Taught by instructor Tom DePalma, the course covers African roots, slavery, the civil rights movement and race relations today. Students have a textbook entitled "From Slavery to Freedom," but they also read "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass." Next fall, they most likely will read Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man."

"I've always been interested in studying history with literature," said DePalma, who specializes in the history of the American Revolution and African-American history.

Students who took the course last semester generally agree: DePalma knows his stuff. Outlining similar themes, he links the American Revolution to black history and shows how progress in America, especially for blacks, has come in spurts.

But he is also white.

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Harper Wants Blacks to Feel Welcome 12 Months a Year Students Ask for Support Besides Just Black History Month
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